A recent decision of the Federal Court of Australia (FCA), on appeal from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), confirmed that an employee’s belief that their workload is excessive can be enough to uphold a stress related workers’ compensation claim.
In April 2013, an employee lodged a workers’ compensation claim after being diagnosed with a “major depressive episode”, which he argued was caused by long-term exposure to excessive workloads. The employer denied liability, arguing his workloads weren’t objectively excessive.
Both the AAT and the FCA agreed that, in a claim for stress related workers’ compensation, it is not necessary to consider whether a workload was objectively excessive, nor is it necessary to consider whether a workload could objectively be seen to have aggravated a condition. In upholding the claim, the Federal Court found that the injured worker was entitled to workers’ compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth).
This decision highlights the need for employers to deal with employee’s health and safety concerns regarding workloads carefully, even if the employer doesn’t agree that their workload is excessive.