Workplace sexual misconduct register should help victims to speak out

The Government hopes a register to track cases of sexual misconduct in the workplace will encourage victims to speak out.

However there are concerns this won't capture the scope of the problem.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has asked the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment to begin collating data for complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace to try better measure the problem. 

"Women in New Zealand have had a very similar experience to those overseas and they've been silenced for a long time.

"Your voice matters, we're going to be listening and were going to be working together to solve the problem," Ms Genter told Newshub.

This follows the global metoo movement that is breaking the silence on sexual harassment.

Actress Uma Thurman is the latest to accuse former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault after a number of high profile actresses also came forward accusing the movie mogul. 

This is something New Zealand is not immune to. The Screen Women's Action Group was set up last year to fight sexual misconduct in the film industry here.

Producer Emma Slade who helped set up the group says "sexual harassment is everywhere, it's a global problem, so it's not just our industry".

Currently, allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace can be handled internally or complaints can go to MBIE or the Human Rights Commission

Only the latter collects specific data and has had 215 complaints of sexual harassment in the past three and a half years.

This register will not include complaints resolved internally - or those who don't speak out, so it will never tell exactly how rife the problem is.

However, employment lawyer Chloe Luscombe says it's very likely that people don't report everything that happens.

Ms Luscombe says it will raise awareness around the issue something the me too campaign is already doing.

"I think we probably are seeing the beginning of a cultural shift."

While the register could encourage victims to speak out, individual complaints will not be made public.