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Nov 22, 2018

A Missing Worker in Australia and The Duty of Care

The employer has a duty to follow up and investigate. The employee might have met with an accident, or fallen ill on duty. They have an obligation to care.

A Missing Worker in Australia and The Duty of Care

Employers contact us about employees that fail to report for duty from time to time. Do we have a legal responsibility towards these missing people, they wonder, and if so what ought they to do about it. As background, workplace, health, and safety law requires them to take ‘reasonable care’ to avoid foreseeable risk or injury. Hence, if they become a missing worker in Australia in the course of their duty, their employer cannot simply walk away.

 Employer Responsibility Towards a Missing Worker in Australia

Find Law Australia explains ‘all employers owe their employees a duty to take reasonable care to protect them, against any foreseeable injury that may arise during the course of employment.’ This should therefore include taking reasonable steps to protect them in the field, especially in cases of hazardous employment.

They must ‘take proactive steps in identifying foreseeable risks, and implement the necessary measures to prevent injury or illness from occurring in the workplace.’ If their place of work extends beyond the physical boundaries of their business premises, it follows the employer’s responsibility towards a missing worker in Australia extends accordingly.

So Do Employers Have a Duty to Missing Employees?

Certainly, they have a duty not to put an employee at risk of accident, injury, assault, or abduction, and take reasonable steps to ensure they return to base in good shape. If they ‘clock out’ then this responsibility presumably ends. However, if the incident happens while on active duty, then this is arguably a different matter.

As a hypothetical example, let us consider a driver we call Jake for briefness sake. Jake drives off in the company van to deliver an order to a customer. Jake never completes the delivery, nor returns to base. He, the vehicle, and the order vanish. He becomes a missing worker in Australia. Where does this leave us?

We can speculate on the reasons, but we cannot simply write the incident off to employee theft. The employer has a duty to follow up and investigate. Jake might have met with an accident, or fallen ill on duty. Robbers might have hijacked his vehicle and be holding him hostage. The employer must do something that demonstrably satisfies the need to take reasonable care.

Clearly, the Employer Must Try to Find the Employee

But this is not what employers do, and it this is you, you may be ill-equipped for the task. Contact Missing Persons in Australia, and speak to an operative who knows what to do. You can call 1300 553 788 now, or 0401 553 551 after business hours.