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The Greatest Moral Challenge of our time

Three men walk into a bar - you would have thought one of them would have seen it. Bet you didn’t see that one coming – wonder if the bar tender or bar owner did - they’re probably the ones who would front up to court when some “No Win-No fee” lawyer advised the three men they could all sue for damage and injury.

By the way, if you do get roped into a “No Win, No fee” arrangement with a lawyer, the recent Workers Compensation inquiry is looking at banning this practice. Not because of some agenda to deny people their rights, but because they’ve found the legal profession to be using this marketing ploy to drum up extra work. It’s no fee from your lawyer, but if you lose the case, you’re still up for paying the other parties costs. But your “free” lawyer doesn’t tell you that until you receive the bill.

Which brings me to the greatest moral challenge of our time – our morale of entitlement and blaming someone else when things go wrong rather than taking responsibility ourselves.

For example, the Tourist who ran down the dunes at Lake Wabby on Fraser Island, tripped and broke his neck, and suffered partial tetraplegic. He sued the Government for his misfortune. The Court ruled that they had to pay 85% of his claimed amount because there were only two signs warning of the dangers of running in the dunes or diving into the water. Yes, it’s very sad that he was injured. But where does this stop? Should every tree root in the bush all over the country have a sign and bollards around it? Should we all have to wear floaties before we jump in the surf so there’s less chance of hitting the bottom? Why should you and I pay for compensating these injuries, because it is not “someone else” who pays but you and I through our taxes when Government has to pay out?

Reverse Onus of Proof

You’re at home one night watching TV, go to bed, and wake up the next morning to a knock on the door from the Police accusing you of a crime of hurting someone last night. Imagine being told that you are guilty, until you can prove yourself innocent. “Sorry your honour, I didn’t know I’d be needing an alibi” won’t cut it. Well, in the world of Employers and Managers, that’s where we are heading with new Fair Work laws on the cards for January that intends to bring in a Reverse Onus of Proof. If an employee accuses another employee or the business of harassment, bullying, or unfair treatment, the onus is on the employer to prove it didn’t happen.

Don’t get me wrong, all these issues need to be dealt with so they don’t happen anywhere in our society. But there is no penalty for an individual making an unsubstantiated claim. So businesses could end up spending heaps of time investigating baseless claims (and how can you prove many of these things one way or another). Many of these incidents are due to disagreements between two individuals, unrelated to work. I don’t know of any business that would do well by employing people who all share the same view - diversity and differences of opinions are usually a foundation for making better business decisions. To some extent, these issues could be reduced by employing people compatible with the culture of the business. For an employer this situation is also like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Apart from only having a short 1 hour or so average interview to get to know the average new employee, because of privacy protections you can’t ask about a huge number of issues from health, family life and outside interests, opinions on many topics, past employment departure circumstances, substance use etc. Yet the minute a person is employed, the employer becomes responsible for the conduct and behaviour of that person. Do we really want businesses to be forced to control the thoughts and behaviours of employees?

Crash, Bang, Smash

Speaking of risks in employment, I know of an employer who recently employed a Licensed Forklift Trainer to work on a forklift in their warehouse. In the two weeks he was there, he had more hits than Elvis – running into more racking in two weeks than all the other 20 or so operators do in a 12 month period combined. And this is the type of expert who is supposed to be training and assessing others on how to use a forklift?

Man Flu

It’s official, Man Flu is real, and it’s a serious condition. Tweets about it have increased 6 fold in three years, whilst laboratory confirmed real influenza cases in Qld have decreased to 6393, 16,000 less cases than last year. It is advisable to seek out a Doctor immediately so they can give you a much needed Medical Certificate to prove to family, friends and work just how sick you are. Those with a tough guy persona to uphold generally get a more severe strain. Doctor’s have acknowledged this condition for years (under their “Bulk Billing” system), and it has been a large contributor to clogging up GP clinics for Medical Certificates, and the increase in Sick Leave in workplaces.

On a more serious note though, women are more than twice as likely to seek medical advice, and men are poor at preventative health, such as prostate checks or taking vitamins. A combination of poking fun at “Man Flu” where some people wilter like a flower when the heat gets turned on, and men’s reluctance to seeking medical advice in the first place is contributing to why men live on average 4 years less than women. Early symptoms of serious conditions get ignored until it is too late to do something about it. Don’t cry wolf, but listen to your body’s true signals – as a friend recently found out, it could save your life.

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson
General Manager

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