Jovcic v Return to Work Corporation of South Australia and Coopers Brewery Ltd [2020] SAET 48

What actions are considered to be unreasonable administrative actions by an Employer, and when are they considered to be undertaken in a unreasonable manner?

This case considered the issue of reasonable administrative action in circumstances where a worker had made a psychological injury claim arising from his employer’s actions in an investigation of allegations put to the worker. Specifically, the worker stated that the employer had been unreasonable in its investigation by issuing him with a first and final written warning; allowing the worker to work on night shift for an extended time, which had left him chronically tired; and by not providing the worker with a proper opportunity to consider the employer’s evidence in the investigation.  

While the South Australian Employment Tribunal acknowledged that the worker had been untruthful in giving evidence, it noted that this was not relevant to the reasonableness of the action taking against the worker by the employer. The Tribunal found that the worker ‘was not given sufficient details of materials relevant to the investigation and was not able to properly consider his response’. Further, it also found that the worker had not been prevented from working nightshift for an extended period of time, which was against company policy and therefore also an unreasonable action.

Consequently, the Tribunal determined that the worker’s claim should be accepted.

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