Insecure workers fear reporting abuse

Georgie MooreAAP
"For many women insecure employment is not a choice," Kate Jenkins says.
Camera Icon"For many women insecure employment is not a choice," Kate Jenkins says. Credit: AAP

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins wants to see more comprehensive data on insecure work to help tackle sexual harassment of migrant workers and those with precarious jobs.

She has told a federal parliamentary committee into job security about the need for more data on insecure work - including what drives it, its impacts and characteristics including gender.

"For many women insecure employment is not a choice," Ms Jenkins told Thursday's inquiry.

"Rather, it's a consequence of a lack of opportunities in the formal economy, the absence of another means of livelihood or the only means for women to keep a foot in the workforce."

Migrant women and those with disabilities are more likely to be exploited during insecure work and are much less likely to complain about it.

Ms Jenkins said this highlighted the need to impose a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, something she recommended but the government declined to legislate.

"You're having to rely on individuals who are already very vulnerable and may in fact lose their livelihood, their work, to bring complaints," she told the inquiry.

"And that means that that system just really doesn't apply to insecure workers."

The federal government has come under intense fire for failing to back all legislative changes recommended in Ms Jenkins' Respect at Work report.

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