Unreasonable job plan email claim dismissed – WTF


In a recent legal workers compensation (Comcare) case, an ABC employee was denied workers’ compensation, after the AAT found her new (delayed) work plan, and her employer’s decision to email it to her, were “reasonable” notwithstanding that the worker felt that the job plan was beyond her capabilities, had not been discussed with her and caused her anxiety and depression…

Unreasonable job plan email claim dismissed – WTF

A Western Australia-based radio trainer claimed she asked her manager to change her job plan in 2008.

She told the  Tribunal that by the time she took long-service leave in 2009, her plan still hadn’t been changed.

The worker said that after returning from leave she was emailed a new job plan, which included a number of duties she wasn’t trained for, and encouraged to sign it.
“Prior to receiving the email there had been no discussion with me about any change in my role or in the way that training was to be delivered,” she said.

“My skills and competencies at that time did not meet those required for this new job.

“My new job plan required me to sign up to do a job which [I] did not believe I was capable of doing and certainly not capable of attempting without extensive training.”

The worker claimed she made “repeated requests” to her manager to change the job plan, but the manager refused.

She subsequently developed “severe mixed anxiety and depression” as a result of the situation, and claimed compensation

The ABC, of course, denied liability.

AAT Deputy President Stanley Hotop found the employer’s actions, in communicating the job plan to the worker, constituted “reasonable administrative action taken in a reasonable manner in respect to the [worker’s] employment”.

Deputy President Hotop also found the manager “genuinely and reasonably believed” that the job plan was appropriate, “having regard both to ABC Radio’s current strategic plan and the [worker’s] skill, competence and experience”.

“[The manager’s] actions… in encouraging and urging the applicant to sign the proposed job plan… were reasonable and were taken by her in a reasonable manner,” he said

“Accordingly, compensation is not payable to the [worker].”

You can read this interesting case here: Buck and Comcare [2012] AATA 327 (31 May 2012)

As we have written about many times, if your stress condition is caused or aggravated by work, workers compensation is available, however, there is an exception in the WorkCover legislation which is often misused/abused by employers and claims agents to reject work related stress claims (such as in the above case)

The exception generally provides that workers compensation is not payable if the stress is predominantly caused by:

  • An employer taking reasonable action in a reasonable manner to transfer, demote, discipline, redeploy, retrench or dismiss a worker; or
  • A decision by the employer based on reasonable grounds not to award or to provide promotion, reclassification or transfer of, or leave of absence or benefit in connection with employment to the worker.
  • An expectation of 1 or 2 above.

You can read more about stress claims here >>


[Post dictated and  manually entered on behalf of WCV]

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