Psychological Injuries in the Workplace

September 30, 2017

What you need to know

Given Australia’s ageing workforce, employers will now be faced with employees who are older, who have a longer and varied work history and who are likely to present with a pre-existing injury or disease. The best time to contemplate the implications of an ageing workforce is while these issues are in their infancy. The area is complex as it involves claims under Workers’ Compensation, General Protections, Equal Opportunity and Discrimination laws.

In July 2017, Frazer Jones hosted another successful seminar in partnership with Hall & Wilcox to discuss the legal issues associated with managing pre-existing injuries in the workforce. In summary, to minimise risk an employer should consider the following:

1. Pre-existing injuries – consider a pre-employment medical questionnaire, obtain medical reports which canvass the employee’s medical history including hereditary risks, know what the actual duties a position involves, ensure you are aware of extracurricular activities that may impact an employee’s condition;

2. Pre-existing injury disclosure – provide a detailed role description, consider an orientation of the role prior to commencement of employment, consider obtaining legal advice in respect of the pre-employment notice and include pre-existing injury disclosure in employment contract;

3. Discrimination – discrimination laws apply to prospective employees. Generally, there will be exception to discrimination if a person cannot carry out the inherent requirements of their position, even if reasonable adjustments are made. In assessing this with respect to employees, it is important that an employer considers the employee’s pre-injury employment, which is broader than the employee’s pre-injury position.

If these topics have raised concerns or highlighted any areas that need to be addressed, I would be happy to discuss how we have assisted other organisations with similar projects and may be able to assist you with any additional specialist resources.

For any questions regarding the legislative framework, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the presenters and senior associates, Ms Caroline Schlieper in Hall & Wilcox’s Statutory Insurance team and Ms Melinda Bell in Hall & Wilcox’s Employment team via their website