Bill proposing more time to raise a personal grievance for sexual harassment awaits third reading

In October 2021, MP Deborah Russell’s Member’s Bill, the ‘Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill’ (Bill) was introduced to Parliament.

The Bill passed the Committee of the Whole House stage on 7 December 2022 and is currently awaiting its third and final reading before becoming law.

The purpose of the Bill is to extend the 90-day time-period for raising a personal grievance for sexual harassment to 12 months.

Once the Bill becomes law, it is noted that the extended time frame will only apply to grievances in which the sexual harassment occurred, or came to the notice of the employee on or after the commencement date of the Amendment Act.

As we noted in our article from November 2021, some commentators wondered whether the Bill could be extended to apply to bullying claims, or other types of grievance where there is a pattern of conduct that builds up over time.

This sentiment was reiterated in the Select Committee stage, with some submitters suggesting that the extended time period should apply to bullying and racial discrimination grievances.

These suggestions have not been adopted in the drafting of the Bill.

The scope of the Bill is narrow—with the time extension applying only to personal grievances for sexual harassment raised under section 103(1)(d) of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (Act) and not to any other type of personal grievance. For all other types of grievance, the 90-day time limit for raising a personal grievance will continue to apply.

The Bill has garnered cross-party support due to its purpose and limited scope. It is expected to pass its third reading.

To prepare for the change to be introduced by the Bill, we recommend that Employers review and reassess current sexual harassment policies and consider whether they are fit for purpose. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with a member of our Employment Law team if you need assistance in this respect.

For related reading, please see our article which discusses guidance the Employment Relations Authority has given as to its approach to sexual harassment cases.

Meet the team that makes
things simple.

Maria Green
Tamsin Woolf

Let's Talk

"*" indicates required fields

Lane Neave is not able to provide legal opinion or advice without specific instructions from you and the completion of all formal engagement processes.