Mental health is particularly important in the workplace. New amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (Vic) are expected to commence on 1 July 2022, introducing obligations for Victorian employers to manage workplace mental health risks. This article summarises the proposed obligations to help inform your business.
What are the new mental health obligations for employers?
The proposed obligations require employers to manage mental health risks in the workplace through:
- identifying psychosocial hazards;
- eliminating or reducing risks associated with psychosocial hazards;
- implementing prevention plans for certain psychosocial hazards; and
- reporting certain psychosocial hazards to WorkSafe Victoria.
Failure to comply with the obligations will result in breach of civil penalty provisions and related fines.
What are psychosocial hazards?
Psychosocial hazards are workplace factors that may cause an employee to experience negative psychological responses that put their health and safety at risk.
Examples of these factors given in the regulations include:
- high job demands;
- sexual harassment;
- aggression or violence;
- exposure to traumatic events or content;
- poor support;
- low role clarity;
- poor organisational change management;
- low recognition and reward; and
- poor workplace relationships.
What are my reporting obligations?
Under the proposed regulations, employers with over 50 employees are required to report to WorkSafe Victoria any psychosocial complaint they receive involving aggression or violence, bullying or sexual harassment.
Why are the changes being introduced?
The Victorian Government has committed to better preventing workplace psychological hazards and injuries. While the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) already requires employers to maintain a safe working environment, the new regulations provide specific regulatory provisions for mental health.
What should I do next?
Feedback to the proposed regulations are currently being considered and finalised regulations are expected to commence in July 2022. In preparation, employers should:
- Identify all psychosocial hazards in their workplace;
- Conduct risk assessments and consider plans for addressing such risks;
- Review their OHS practices and policies and make changes where necessary;
- Review their employee and contractor agreements for OHS provisions.
- New obligations are expected to commence in July 2022 requiring employers to identify and manage mental health risks within the workplace.
- Factors which may contribute to mental health risks within the workplace include bullying, high job demands and sexual harassment.
- Employers will be subject to civil penalties under the proposed regulations.
- Employers should review their current policies, practices and agreements in light of the proposed regulations.
Gladwin Legal are experts in employment and workplace law. If you need help understanding your legal obligations or require drafting of employee or contractor agreements or workplace policies, please contact us at or 1300 033 934.