PSA says nationwide "stocktake" would help end workplace sexual harassment

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A national "stocktake" of workplace sexual harassment would signal a serious approach to a growing problem in New Zealand, the PSA says.

An investigation by Stuff’s #MeTooNZ campaign has shown the number of sexual harassment complaints in public agencies has doubled since 2015.

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says this is deeply concerning and shows the need for public sector agencies to have robust systems in place for dealing with these accusations.

"In 2015 the State Services Commission issued guidelines for public agencies about how to prevent and respond to allegations of sexual harassment," she says.

"The guidelines are good, but we have long-standing concerns about how consistently public agencies are abiding by them.

"Australia’s Human Rights Commission has recently begun a nationwide inquiry, and it may take something similar here for widespread culture change to begin."

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue wants sexual harassment reporting to be mandatory for employers so that "red flag" sectors and workplaces can be identified.

"The PSA would support this, as it would be a step towards ending this kind of behaviour in the workplace," Ms Polaczuk says.

"It’s not just about having a policy - it needs to be clear that sexual harassment is not tolerated, and that complainants will be supported.

"The PSA has worked with a number of state sector agencies on improving their policies, and we believe unions have a crucial role to play in promoting safe and healthy workplaces.

"Every employee has the right to go to work every day and do their job without being subjected to unwelcome sexual advances - or indeed any form of bullying.

"I am glad the #MeTooNZ campaign has brought wider attention to this issue, and the importance it has to creating a better working life for all New Zealanders."