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Sex discrimination rules change

New rules have been announced which change the effect of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. One set of amendments, concerning harassment, came into force on 6 April.

A second set, regarding discrimination due to maternity leave, take effect for women whose expected childbirth is on or around October 5.

The new rules remove a requirement to have a comparator when a woman brings a discrimination complaint on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave.

Rules now in force amend the provisions on unlawful sex harassment to include situations where:


  • unwanted conduct relates to the sex of a person even if it is not prompted by the complainant's sex


  • a complainant witnesses a person being subjected to conduct related to the sex of a person which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating environment for the witness


  • an employer knows that their employee is being repeatedly harassed by a third party - such as a customer or client - and does nothing within their power to prevent further harassment

    The amendments also specify changes to the methods of calculating length of service for women taking maternity leave.

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