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QTPA Member Alert | Your Professional Responsibilities as an Employer (27/9/2012)

Your Professional Responsibilities as an Employer

As supplied by Turf Queensland’s Insurance company – “Regional Insurance Brokers”.

When You Run a Business, You Have a Responsibility to Each and Every Individual You Employ.

Depending on the industry your business is involved in, your responsibilities could differ. For example, the trades and mining industries will need to take into account different risk factors to those found in the retail industry.

Responsibilities as an employer

First and foremost, as an employer, you have to explicitly inform each new employee of their responsibilities, the pay they’ll receive (whether measured hourly, weekly, fortnightly, etc.), their work times, holidays and other responsibilities or benefits. If you don’t inform them of every aspect of their job, then you can be held accountable if they make a mistake.

It’s also your responsibility to ensure they’re qualified for the job at hand. As an example, if you run a bar and hire a bartender and they serve alcohol to an underage individual and are caught out, the consequences can run one of two ways.

  1. If they have an Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate, then they will be held responsible for the actions they took as they have been taught about how to properly and responsibly serve alcohol
  2. If they do not have an RSA certificate, then it will be the business that pays the price, both for the decision to hire someone who does not have a valid RSA certificate and for not teaching them about right practices

Be discerning at the very beginning and you’ll ensure you’ve hired the right individual and informed them of what’s expected of them. One of the best foolproof ways to do this is to include all this information in the employment contract they sign.

Beyond this, it’s also important to protect your employees from legal liabilities. This is where finding policies that deal with the different varieties of professional liabilities is a great idea. That way, if you or your employees are held liable or accused of any form professional liability, you’ll have the protection to help you through.

Ensuring the safety of your employees

You also need to ensure you’re taking care of the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. In a case back in 2010, Sapwell v Lusk, the plaintiff had been employed as an optical technician at a suburban Brisbane optometry practice. One day she attended to an elderly man to help him with a fitting for a new pair of glasses.

She went into the back of the store where repairs were carried out, unaware that the elderly man had followed her in there. He sexually assaulted her, and as a consequence she began suffering from both post-traumatic stress disorder, a major depressive disorder. In the Supreme Court Judge’s ruling, the employer was found to be responsible by not having safety measures in place to ensure their employee’s safety.

The back room of the store was not visible to people passing by outside and there were no preventative obstacles between the plaintiff and her attacker. The ruling found this could’ve been resolved by a lockable door simply being installed in the back room that the plaintiff could have used to ensure her safety when in the store by herself.

This is a sad but very true example of the fact that employers need to protect their employees and ensure their safety at all times – especially when they’re working alone. Whether this is through the installation of lockable doors or other security measures, you must do all that is possible to keep your employees safe from potential dangers.

The responsibilities you hold as an employer towards your employees isn’t just about protecting the life of your business, but it is more importantly about keeping you and your workers safe.

Jim Vaughan

Chief Executive Officer


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