Publications - Business services

Reasonable Management Action – know where you stand

Negligence at work can, and does cause injury.

Often, these injuries are seen as dramatic physical injuries, which are life changing or in the most horrific cases, fatal. 

There is no doubt that the physical injuries are usually life changing however, some of the most damaging outcomes we have seen from our clients are the injuries that stick with them long after the scars have healed, the pins are out, and the physio has finished.

Those are the psychological injuries.

Thankfully, the law of negligence acknowledges that psychological injuries can impact upon not just the worker, but also their family. 

These are the cases where a once amazing tradesperson can no longer operate machinery, let alone go anywhere near the site of the injury. They are the cases where a professional has been bullied so severely that they have lost all confidence in their craft and can no longer continue in what would have been a fulfilling career.

The law of negligence compensates workers who suffer a psychological injury ONLY if the employer has overstepped what is legally acceptable.

This is where it gets very complicated. A worker will not be entitled to compensation if the employer acted “reasonably”. The legislation that applies provides a defence to employers if they were carrying out business in a way that the court would find acceptable, that is, reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way.

Sometimes, this is how workers fall through the cracks.

Employers need to be able to carry out business, make money, and discipline workers where appropriate. They also need to do this without crossing the line and failing their most important asset - their workers.

Case law assists with explaining the complexity of what constitutes reasonable management action. It isn’t straightforward and needs to be considered on a case by case basis. There is no one size fits all.

There needs to be a thorough examination of the facts, including  the nature of the industry, any previous formal or informal complaints, and any notifications of unsafe work practices, just to name a few.

It is important for both the employer and employee to understand what is likely to be viewed as “reasonable” in the course of conducting a business, and what crosses the line.

Whether you are the employer or the employee, Kelly Legal is “with you” to explain your legal rights and obligations at work.


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