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RIAA's Human Rights Working Group is an initiative to support members in their stewardship responsibilities respecting human rights in their business operations and their portfolio of companies. The Human Rights Working Group is a way for RIAA members to come together in the interests of building stronger stewardship capabilities through more deeply understanding human rights, being able to identify and comment on due diligence processes and understand investor and company roles in remedying human rights abuses and violations.

On 4 September 2023, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill was introduced to Parliament, which contains the governments' third tranche of workplace reforms, having legislated the "Secure Jobs, Better pay" reforms in December 2022 and "Protecting Worker Entitlements" reforms in June 2023. The Bill is currently the subject of much debate and scrutiny given the significance of some of the proposed changes, and at this stage the reforms are expected to become law in February 2024. Partner, Sarah Clarke, from Corrs Chambers Westgarth will cover the key proposed changes under the Bill, including a new definition of "casual employee", increased regulation of independent contractors, and enforcement provisions related to underpayments of wages, and the implications of these changes for the business community.

Partner, Heidi Roberts, from Corrs Chambers Westgarth will cover another significant area of reform, being the introduction of the 'positive duty' in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), which requires employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate, as far as possible sex discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, and conduct which subjects a person to a 'hostile workplace environment' on the ground of their sex. Significantly, the Australian Human Rights Commission's enforcement powers will commence on 12 December 2023, which means that it can investigate and enforce an employer's positive duty to eliminate the above mentioned unlawful conduct. Heidi will highlight the key guiding principles and standards contained in the Commission's Guidelines for Complying with the Positive which businesses should be meeting to satisfy their legal obligations and how they should approach the development of their prevention and response plan.

This special presentation will be followed by our Human Rights Working Group meeting, which will include a presentation from B Corp, industry and subgroup updates.

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