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The changing landscape of Australian workplace legislation

As Australian workplaces adapt to legislative updates, experts stress the significance of proactive employee dialogue and engagement.

Content Insights

Australian workplaces are bracing for significant changes this year.
Major organisations must publicly disclose their gender pay gap data.
Australia grants workers the right to disconnect, allowing them to refuse after-hours contact.

Table of Contents




As the legislative landscape evolves, Australian workplaces are bracing for significant changes this year. Amidst these shifts, one expert emphasises the paramount importance of listening to employees.

Dr. Cecilia Herbert, Principal Behavioral Scientist at Qualtrics XM, underscores the common thread among these legislative updates: the need for open dialogue and consultation with employees. “Listening to your employees and engaging in meaningful conversations is key,” she affirms in her discussion with HRD.

Key Legislative Changes Impacting Australian Workplaces:

– Strengthened Powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission: Since December 12, 2023, the Commission has been empowered under the Sex Discrimination Act to investigate and enforce compliance with measures preventing sexual discrimination and harassment in workplaces.

Mandatory Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Starting February 27, major organisations must publicly disclose their gender pay gap data, in accordance with new legislation aimed at promoting gender equality.

Enhanced Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations: The Australian government is rolling out new WHS regulations to address psychological harm in the workplace, emphasising the creation of environments free from psychosocial risks such as bullying and harassment.

Right to Disconnect Legislation: Later this year, Australia will introduce the right to disconnect, granting workers the ability to refuse out-of-hours contact from employers unless such refusal is deemed unreasonable.

Addressing Social Challenges Through Legislation:

Dr. Herbert highlights that legislative changes are often responses to longstanding social issues within workplaces. Employers must recognize and address these challenges to foster a positive employee experience.

Harnessing Employee Feedback for Informed Decisions:

To navigate these changes effectively, employers must move beyond annual satisfaction surveys and adopt a continuous listening approach. Dr. Herbert advises leveraging employee experience data to make evidence-based decisions, emphasising the importance of ongoing dialogue with employees.

Dr. Herbert offers practical guidance for employers:

– Understand the core principles behind legislative changes and tailor them to organisational needs.

– Use legislative changes as an opportunity to engage senior leaders in strategic discussions about employee experience.

– Rethink the concept of employee experience to encompass active listening and engagement with employees.

In essence, proactive engagement with employees is crucial for organisations to not only comply with legislative changes but also to leverage them as opportunities for strategic growth and improvement in the workplace.


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