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Duty of Disclosure: A Vital Obligation for Employees with Health Conditions

The recent decision of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) in Debus v Condor Energy Services Limited [2022] FedCFamC2G 429 serves as a reminder of the importance for employees to comply with their duty to disclose health conditions. This case involved an employee who was terminated from their role as an assistant accountant due to their failure to disclose their mental disability, which included autism.

Why Duty of Disclosure Was Needed

The employee signed an employment contract that contained clauses regarding fitness for work and the disclosure of medical information. Despite being aware of their mental health history, the employee did not inform their employer, Condor Energy Services, of their disability. As a result of the employee’s disruptive and exasperating behaviour in the workplace, the employer counselled the employee, gave warnings and then eventually terminated the employment during the probationary period.

The employee then filed a claim alleging that by terminating the employee’s employment, the employer had engaged in adverse action based on their mental disability. However, the FCFCA found that the employer was unaware of the employee’s disability and the termination was not based on the disability.

This case emphasises that the employer had the right to require employees to disclose any disabilities, physical or mental, that impact their ability to perform their role.

For our employer clients

This case highlights the significance of having a well-drafted employment contract that explicitly states an employee’s obligation to disclose any disabilities, and the consequences of failing to do so.

For our employee clients

It is imperative for employees to fulfil their duty of disclosure and be transparent about any medical conditions that may impact the employee’s ability to perform their job. Failure to do so may result in termination of employment, as seen in this case.

At Long Saad Woodbridge Lawyers, we understand the importance of these obligations for both employees and employers. Our team of employment law experts can assist in drafting employment contracts that clearly outline the obligations of both parties and help to ensure compliance with the law.

Contact us to schedule a consultation with a member of the employment law team.

Important Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and for reference purposes only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.



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