Excessive Workloads and Psychological Injury 

by Jul 28, 2023All Posts

Many of you will relate to a recent case being brought against a large Aussie business, in which an employee received compensation for a psychological injury determined by the courts as caused by an ‘excessive workload’. The employer at hand was found negligent of reasonable action, as they did nothing to manage or to reduce the workload of the employee despite their acknowledgement of the issue. The employers defence to this situation was largely based upon the employee being a perfectionist in their work, taking it upon themselves to go above and beyond in undertaking additional hours (paid and unpaid). We ask you to look upon this case reflectively, knowing that many of you can name an employee that displays such hard working and dedicated, yet concerning characteristics.  

The supervisor in this case noted that this employee worked additional hours, but it was seen as an attribute of a ‘honest’ ‘responsible’, and ‘perfectionist’ nature. The court was presented with evidence that the employee often worked through lunch time and past the intended shift end. It was further presented that the previous employee in that role worked an additional 17 hours more than the current employee, despite having to complete the same duties. We ask you to consider, when did you last check in with your employees to review workload, role support and overall workplace satisfaction? If you cannot answer this question, we urge you to go about this sooner rather than later to prevent employee illness and potential legal action. 

If you are uncertain of where to start in responding to a similar issue the AHR Team can help, only a phone call away on 1800 577 515. We will act as a single point of contact for you to access in managing and resolving your concerns surrounding an employee’s set and demonstrated expectations and performance. Specifically, we can equip you with tools and templates such as HR and Performance Reviews. We can do these with you to see items actioned and appropriately followed up or adjusted, OR we can do these for you, ensuring that employee contracts and agreements reflect current role expectations. Alternatively, we can assist in the development of detailed position descriptions at the beginning of the recruitment process, preventing you from double handling employee performance documentation, saving you time and money in the future. Read more about this in our article, Common Position Description Mistakes.   

We are certain that many of you can resonate with aspects of this case. The mentioned attributes are common amongst high performing employees, as they often go above and beyond to fulfill their role. To ensure that you do not see your employees fall ill or have claims brought against your business, we highly recommend that you review ALL employee duties and expectations, making sure that these correspond with those outlined within employment agreements and contracts. Within this we advise that employers review employee performance and ensure that efforts are being appropriately rewarded or renumerated. Right now IS the best time to do this, as you are setting budgets and have the capacity to introduce changes ready for a successful and productive work year! 

The AHR Team focus upon making processes efficient for all businesses, providing a high level of personalised service and flexibility to suit a variety of needs. Whatever your issue, give us a call on 1800 577 515 and we will strive to simplify it! 

Reference: Fletcher v Woolworths Group Limited [2023] NSWPIC 261 (6 June 2023) 

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