Workers Compensation claims for psychosocial injuries are rapidly increasing. On average, 13% of a company’s claims are stress related and these account for 25% of total claims costs.
With approximately 80% of stress based claims arising from issues relating to the employee’s personal circumstances, employers are often uncertain about their rights and responsibilities.
The employer’s duty of care is clear. Under OHS legislation, you are required to identify hazards which could cause harm in the workplace, including psychosocial risks, and apply appropriate controls.
If the signs of stress in a worker are clearly observable, then you are obligated to do something about it. How then do we have conversations with employees about their mental health or stress levels, and what
should we do when they say “no, it’s personal”?
If there is a genuine basis for concern about mental health, you should inform the employee that you suspect they may not be fit for work, and cannot allow them to potentially injure themselves or others. You are within your rights under the legislation to require a medical examination to assess their fitness for work.