Do employers owe a duty of care to employees during workplace investigations?

Another very good and informative session. I will find this information very useful.
workplace investigations, government investigator, testimonial, employer duty of care, professional development for investigators
Government Investigator
Thanks for the conference. You have really relevant topics by engaging and interesting presenters.
industrial relations, workplace investigations, testimonial, professional development for investigators
Industrial Relations Advisor
Excellent presentation and so relevant and right. Shows the need for continual training to not only improve but maintain skills.
testimonial, workplace investigations, MyKludo professional development for investigators
Senior Government Investigator

Course overview

Do employers owe a duty of care to employees during workplace investigations?

The simple answer to this question is NO. But the complex legal framework and some significant case law make the response deceptive. In this webinar participants will be guided through the case law around an employers duty of care. The legal framework is explained  and participants will come to understand the key pitfalls that can occur when workplace investigations place employees of risk of psychological harm. 

The common law obligation of an employer to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe system of work and to avoid psychiatric injury is well established in law. Cases such as Koehler v Cerebos (Aust) Ltd (2005), and Robinson v State of QLD (2017) have demonstrated just how serious a breach of the duty of care can be. In Robinson for example, the worker’s experiences of delay, humiliation, isolation and personal undermining all amounted to a failure by the employer to fulfil the duty of care.

The Supreme Court awarded Ms Robinson damages of $1,468,991.11, including general damages and damages for past economic loss, loss of superannuation and future economic loss/expenses. The court noted that much of the mental harm was avoidable, with the risk of serious psychiatric harm in fact being reasonably foreseeable.

Aaron Goonrey, expert industrial relations lawyer at Lander and Rogers, discusses the complex legal responsibilities on employers when conducting investigations. He covers the three key cases impacting on the employers duty of care in Australia and the avenues open to employees when they feel that they have suffered a psychological injury as a result of an investigation. 

Participants will learn about the five key takeaways for employers: 

  • Still complexity around limits of duty owed by employers during investigations
  • Employers can continue to rely on Paige until the foreseeable future
  • Duty can arise in specific circumstances where risk of psychological harm is foreseeable
  • Employers should take care to conduct investigations in an appropriate manner considering specific circumstances.
  • Take care not to give rise to bullying, discrimination and victimisation during an investigation

In conclusion you will learn about the practical tips  employers and advisors can take to minimise the risk of breaching the duty of care or causing psychological injury during an investigation process. 

Aaron Goonrey, industrial relations, employer duty of care, workplace investigations, professional development for investigators


Aaron Goonrey

An expert industrial relations lawyer and partner at Lander and Rogers, Sydney NSW, Aaron practices in the areas of industrial relations and employment law, with his practice covering all aspects of these specialty areas.

Aaron provides strategic and practical advice on all aspects relating to employment, industrial relations, discrimination, and work health and safety.  He is also experienced in investigations (workplace and regulatory), restraint of trade matters, restructuring and terminations, and prosecutions involving workplace, safety and regulatory issues.