Employer Duties | Employment Law

As an employer you have duties to all your workers, regardless of whether they are in full-time, part-time, or casual workers.

These legal duties include: –

  • Duty to pay workers for their work;
  • Duty of care to your workers;
  • Duty to provide a safe system of work;
  • Duty to indemnify


Duty to pay workers

Known as the ‘contract of service’, an employer has a duty to pay for the work performed by its employed workers. The duty to pay is based on the mutual obligation that exist between an employer and a worker whereby one person is under an obligation to perform work/services in return for another providing pay for those work/services. 


The Duty of Care and Safe System of Work

A duty of care and ensuring a safe system of work is a paramount continuing duty and consist of duties and responsibilities such as: –

  • The duty to take reasonable care to safeguard their employees from reasonably foreseeable risks of harm.
  • Have competent staff, adequate materials, proper system of work and effective supervision.
  • Ensure premises and equipment are maintained in a safe condition.
  • Not delegable meaning an employer cannot pass these duties to another company or person it is the employer’s responsibility.
  • Ensure staff are not bullied or harassed at work and act when it does occur.

These duties also exist even when an employer has safe work policies in place but knows that others employees are either not following or the employer is seen to be tolerating or necessitated the unsafe work practices.


Duty to indemnify

An employer has a duty to reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred by an employee while performing their work.


Case Study

Employees of a roadside garbage collection business was successful in arguing that their employer had failed to provide a safe system of work for them. The Court found that the employer of garbage collector employees had failed to provide safe system as the employees had to cross the roads often to collect bins from either side of the street.   

In another case, an employer was held not to have provided a safe system of work when the Court found he failed to act sufficiently to stop workplace violence. An employee was injured in a workplace brawl that occurred both at work and then later at a nightclub. The injured employee claimed his employer had failed to provide a safe system of work by failing to take adequate measures to deter or prevent incidents of violence at work. Even though the employer had separated the employees at work from each other the Court held that he also had a duty to prevent future violence and had failed to do so.

In a bullying incident a security officer claimed that he was constantly been subjected to abuse by his supervisor when guarding the Nationwide News premises. The abuse consisted of intimidation, aggressive behavior, racial slurs and/or slurs about the employee’s family. The employee consequently developed depression and PTS after these incidents. He sought compensation and claimed that his employer had failed in their duty of care. The Court agreed and held that they failed to act appropriately when it became aware of the incidents of bullying by the supervisor.

If you or someone you know has experienced problems or are seeking advice on your employer duties, contact Rep-Revive Employment Lawyers® for an initial consultation.

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