Meetings pertaining to matters of general administration,
management and the implementation of policy may not be considered
to be "reasonable administrative action" pursuant to
section 5A(2) of the SRC Act.
Mr Voss was working in Brisbane as a regional manager with the
Department of Defence. The Department established a new division
which would assume the functions of his area within the Department.
Mr Voss attended a meeting at which he was advised that a decision
had been made to relocate his position to Canberra. Mr Voss stated
that as a result of this meeting he suffered a depressive condition
because, during the consultation process, he had received a number
of assurances that his position would remain in Brisbane. Mr Voss
lodged a claim for workers' compensation in relation to the
major depressive episode.
Comcare denied liability for the claim on the basis of the
reasonable administrative action exclusion in section 5A(2) of the
SRC Act. Mr Voss sought further review at the Tribunal.
An injury under section 14 of the SRC Act may be established if
the employee suffers from a physical or mental injury arising out
of or in the course of their employment in accordance with section
5A of the SRC Act. Section 5A gives the definition of
'injury' as a disease, injury or aggravation of a physical
or mental injury arising out of the employee's employment.
Section 5B of the SRC Act defines disease to be an ailment or an
aggravation of an ailment suffered by an employee, that was
contributed to, to a significant degree by the employee's
Where a disease, injury or aggravation is suffered as a result
of reasonable administrative action, taken in a reasonable manner,
in respect of an employee's employment it will not constitute
an injury under the SRC Act.
According to the authority in Commonwealth Bank of Australia
v Reeve, matters of general administration, management and the
implementation of policy do not fall within the reasonable
administrative action, as they are not specific to the
The Tribunal held that the meetings did not amount to reasonable
administrative action taken in a reasonable manner in respect of Mr
Voss' employment. This was because the evidence showed that
during the consultation process, Mr Voss was assured that his
position would not be moved to Canberra. The Tribunal found that
the decision to relocate teams to Canberra was not a decision with
respect to Mr Voss's employment, rather it was a matter that
was in respect of, but apart from ordinary duties or tasks.
Therefore, the action was not in contemplation of section 5A.
In addition, the Tribunal found that the meeting was not
conducted in a reasonable manner. This was because the decision was
contrary to advice the employer had been given that the position
was not under consideration for relocation and the assurances it
gave the employee.
Meetings regarding operational decisions, such as the relocation
of an employee's position in circumstances where greater
reorganisation is occurring, are unlikely to fall within the
reasonable administrative action conclusions as they are not
specifically in respect of that employee's employment. In
addition, where important operational decisions come up in regards
to an employee's employment, it is important that the employer
provide notification of the decision as soon as possible.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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