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No Worries? Employers' Duty of Care for Negligently Inflicted Stress

Australian Journal of Labour Law, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 344-356, 2005

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/02

13 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2007  

David Rolph

The University of Sydney Law School

Abstract

Work-related psychiatric harm is an increasing problem in the contemporary workplace. It poses significant legal and regulatory challenges, potentially involving the intersection of employment law, negligence and contract as well as systems of occupational health and safety and workers' compensation. This article examines the recent High Court decision in Koehler v Cerebos (Aust.) Ltd (2005) 214 ALR 355; (2005) 79 ALJR 845, which considered whether an employer owes a duty of care not to inflict psychiatric harm on an employee in circumstances where the harm results from the employee's undertaking of a workload in excess of industry standards. It analyses the reasoning of the High Court and places the case in the context of earlier Australian authorities not directly considered by the High Court and contrasts it to the emerging position in the United Kingdom.

Keywords: Torts, Negligence, Psychiatric harm, Duty of care, Workplace stress, Employer-employee relations, Australia, Comparison with United Kingdom, Interaction of tort and contract

JEL Classification: K13, K10, K32, K31

Suggested Citation

Rolph, David, No Worries? Employers' Duty of Care for Negligently Inflicted Stress. Australian Journal of Labour Law, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 344-356, 2005; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=956802

David Rolph (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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