As the old saying goes, employees ought to be able to go to work and return home to their family in one piece. Unfortunately, one in five workers claim to have made a complaint regarding workplace safety that was simply ignored or never fixed. Even more shockingly, according to a new national survey commissioned by Shine Lawyers, one in ten workers are too afraid to report safety issues in fear they may be fired. Unfortunately, a significant portion of both employers and employees are oblivious to the laws that protect workers’ rights in such a scenario.
Shine Lawyers National Special Counsel for employment Will Barsby states “despite strict labour laws, it just beggars belief that we get calls time and time again from workers who have been fired after raising safety concerns. There are very strong employment laws in Australia that protect workers who are injured or raise safety concerns from adverse action”.
“They can’t be demoted, sacked or punished in any way, including having shifts cut or changed”.
Mr Barsby highlighted that it is both small and large business that is accused of firing workers who had been injured or raised safety concerns. “The biggest thing is raising awareness and educating employers and employees”, he said.
“Employees can cover it up, but employees have rights which should be applied equally”.
Whilst strict penalties undoubtedly ought to be imposed on negligent employers, workers must consider the bigger picture and not let their pride get in the way of raising safety concerns or reporting an injury. At the end of the day, nothing is worth severely injuring yourself, or failing to return home. Often, the impact of which is immeasurable.
Should you or a member of your family face adverse action as a result of raising safety concerns in the workplace, Will Barsby and the Employment Law team at Shine Lawyers can assist you. Adverse action is not merely confined to dismissal but includes demotion and the imposition of shift cuts. Through our tailored initial consultation service, our employment lawyers will inform you of all your legal rights and empower you to take the course of action that best suits you.
Further, should you have suffered an injury at work, our Workers Compensation Team may be able to help you get back on your feet through the WorkCover system. With expert legal help, the full extent of your entitlements can be explored and maximum compensation recovered.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 31, 2018.