Sexual harassment is a workplace hazard that causes psychological and physical harm. It is also against the law.

Sexual harassment can happen at a worker’s usual workplace or where the worker is carrying out work at a different location (such as a client’s house). It can also happen during a work-related activity such as a work trip, training course, conference or if you host a work-related social activity.

Sexual harassment might come from co-workers, supervisors or managers, but it may also come from third-parties like your customers, clients or other businesses you work with, like suppliers.

Sexual harassment is not always obvious, repeated or continuous. Unlike bullying, which is characterised by repeated behaviour, sexual harassment can be a one-off incident.

Sexual harassment can take various forms. It can include:

  • an unwelcome sexual advance
  • unwelcome touching or physical contact
  • suggestive comments or jokes
  • sexually offensive pictures
  • unwanted invitations to go on dates
  • requests for sexual favours
  • sexually explicit emails, text messages or online interactions such as social media posts.

Acts such as indecent exposure, stalking, sexual assault and obscene or threatening communications (e.g. phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and posts on social media) should be referred to the police as well as managed under WHS laws. You may also need to report it to SafeWork SA as a notifiable incident.

Employers must take a risk management approach to eliminate or minimise the risks of sexual harassment from occurring in their workplace.

Workers also have a role to play in reducing or minimising the risk of sexual harassment in their workplace.

Related information

Guide to preventing workplace sexual harassment – Safe Work Australia

Preventing workplace sexual harassment – advice for small business – Safe Work Australia

Workplace sexual harassment – advice for workers – Safe Work Australia

Ending workplace sexual harassment – Australian Human Rights Commission