It is important that employers ensure the workload they give to their employees is not too onerous, under workplace law. In Roussety v Castricum Brothers Pty Ltd  VSC 466 the Victorian Supreme Court has found that an employer had breached their duty of care owed to their employee, after imposing a workload that was far too onerous on the employee. As a result of this workload, the employee developed a psychiatric injury.
The Court accepted that at first there was no reason for the employer to suspect the employee was at risk of a psychiatric injury. However, after the employee collapsed at work and made numerous complaints to his employer about the inadequacy of his working conditions, management was on notice that the employee may develop a psychiatric condition as a result of his working conditions, and should have taken action to prevent this.
The Court found that the employee’s psychiatric injury was caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Excessive work hours between 55-60 hours a week, plus extra hours if there was an issue with equipment
- Being on-call 24 hours a day
- Being contacted on holidays, including his honeymoon and whilst on sick leave
- Staff shortages, leading to issues with the maintenance of machines, which in turn required the employee to work more to deal with issues which were arising
Tips for Employers
It is important for employers to:
- monitor the hours worked by employees and ensure they are not excessive under workplace law
- ensure that you maintain enough staff, so that other employees are not required to take on more work than they can handle
- seek advice from a workplace lawyer in order to ensure that you have policies and systems in place, to recognise when an employee may require extra support
- reduce or remove an employee’s on-call duties, if it appears they need time off from this role
If you would like more information about this article or if you would like any assistance in other employment law matters, from an employment lawyer in Sydney, please feel free to speak with or email one of our specialist employment lawyers on (02) 9635 7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to clients and readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as definitive or complete statement of the relevant workplace law.