SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he would remove exemptions for judges and politicians from sexual harassment laws, as his government tries to contain a backlash over allegations of sexual misconduct in politics.
The change is part of a broad overhaul of the way Australia handles gender-related workplace complaints, designed to empower complainants and force bosses to be proactive in stamping out discrimination.
It was among 55 recommendations in a report by the country's Sex Discrimination Commissioner early last year, all of which Morrison said he would now act on.
Here are some of the report's key recommendations:
* Changing the definition of "workplace participant" and "workplace" in gender discrimination law to mean all scenarios "including paid and unpaid workers, and those who are self-employed"; removing the "exemption of state public servants".
* Conduct a survey every four years to monitor rates and trends in sexual harassment complaints. Improve data-sharing between agencies which handle complaints.
* Introduce education about gender discrimination for young working people, school students, university employees, people working for complaints handling organisations, members of the judiciary and company directors.
* A "positive duty" on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate gender discrimination
* Statute of limitations between alleged sex discrimination incident to actionable complaint raised to two years, from six months.
* Wording of workplace laws updated so that "sexual harassment" is prohibited and can be grounds for dismissal.
(Reporting by Renju Jose and Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Perry)