Another Update on Workplace Manslaughter Laws

The discussions pertaining to the State Government’s Workplace Manslaughter laws are still currently done. Last time, I have talked about what this legislation would mean for all employees and employers, and at the same time, the problems may arise. As we all know, deaths in workplaces should be avoided—and must be avoided. However, unfortunate events occur. Sometimes by accident, and at times, by negligence. This is exactly what this law aims to change.

Let me give you a brief summary of the previous discussions and issues raised pertaining to the manslaughter laws the Andrews Labor Government will introduce. The new laws state that employers whose negligence result to an employee death will have face up to 20 years in prison. In line with this, under the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004, employers will be fined $16 million and those individuals who negligently caused the death of an employee will have also have to face 20 years in prison if proven guilty.

Concerns were raised on the second meeting about the legislation mostly regarding the fate of innocent employers and the organizational liability. For the third meeting, Rebecca Casson of the Master Builder’s Victoria raised concerns such as follows: • Master Builder Victoria’s formal submission was put forward which included the concerns raised above. • The document was submitted to the Government and the response to the proposed legislative changes are once again highlighted.

The submission contains negotiations related to the legislation and how the organization is determined to advise all of its members to keep the workplace safe for employees. The organization’s submission contains proposals such as the exclusion of employees from the legislation, however, both the employers and employees have a shared responsibility. As such, if proven guilty, employees are not excluded from prosecution for the offense.

Another issue addressed pertains to organizational liability. The recommendation is that employers who provided a safe working environment should not be held liable. There will be a disproportionate impact on small business, and unlike huge businesses, these have a less complex structure. Smaller businesses also have less budget so they should not be included in the organizational liability.

This issue is a huge concern and it’s important that members are part of the research in drafting the submission. Members should also become part of this important discussion. The next Workplace Manslaughter Taskforce meeting will further review discuss all submissions by interested parties.

To read more about the proposed legislative changes, click here.

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