Victorian Government processes for supporting and maintaining positive duties in the workplace

In Victoria, employers have a positive duty under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to take reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation. Such a positive duty, means that employers have to take proactive steps to address sexual harassment, rather than just respond to it if or when it occurs. Even if employees do not make a complaint, employers have an obligation to put in place proactive preventative measures.

The recently introduced Respect@Work Bill will legislate a positive duty at the Commonwealth level, extending this obligation to employers nationwide.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) recently conducted an investigation, in full co-operation and collaboration with the company, into the way Bakers Delight Holdings prevents sexual harassment in its company-owned workplaces and franchise network. VEOHRC found that, as is the case for many employers, there were gaps in Bakers Delight Holdings’ compliance with the positive duty.

While Bakers Delight Holdings had already taken steps to develop policies and processes to address sexual harassment, more needed to be done to prevent sexual harassment and make their workplaces safer for workers. At the conclusion of the investigation, VEOHRC and Bakers Delight Holdings entered into a compliance agreement, under which Bakers Delight has agreed to take steps to bring its practices in line with the standards required by the positive duty.


Some of the key takeaways for retailers from the investigation:

  1. Employers’ workplace policies need to include a sexual harassment prevention plan and this should incorporate regular risk assessments
  2. All employees should be trained in how to prevent and respond to reports of sexual harassment
  3. Employers need to ensure employees know how they can report instances of harassment
  4. In some circumstances, head franchisors will need to take positive steps to prevent sexual harassment in franchise stores


The full report and compliance agreement can be accessed here: Investigation: Preventing sexual harassment in retail franchises | Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission



MST Marquee – The impact of migration on retail

Retail businesses setting budgets and forecasting are understandably finding it difficult to navigate the uncertain economic conditions. Our research can help educate retailers about industry profitability benchmarks, wage growth and inventory levels, so that businesses can better prepare for the future.

Now more than ever

If business, and retail especially, must reflect the zeitgeist in order to remain relevant, then in this unique inflection point in history, the rights of Indigenous people must be incorporated

Retail Voice CEO Message: 8 May 2024

Achieving a unified voice for retail has been a compelling focus for our industry for many years. It is in the spirit of this endeavour that we are delighted to

Retail Voice CEO Message: 1 May 2024

Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released retail trade data for March, with a modest increase of just 0.8% compared to the same month last year, despite being bolstered by