CLAIMS FOR PSYCHIATRIC INJURY IN THE WORKPLACE: AN ANALYSIS UNDER THE LAW OF NEGLIGENCE AND THE ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE
Keywords:psychiatric illness, employee, law of negligence, Islamic principles, wellness
In recent years, claims for damages for deliberately or negligently inflicted psychiatric illness have succeeded against employers in jurisdictions outside Malaysia. In the case of Mount Isa Mines v Pusey, the court decided that an employer’s duty of care towards the employees is not limited to cases of physical injury but also extended to cases of psychiatric injury. In order to claim damages for psychiatric injury, the law of torts requires the plaintiff to prove two elements: namely, reasonable foreseeability and proximity. This paper examines on the two elements as required under the law in the context of psychiatric illness in the workplace. The paper analyses cases from the UK, Malaysia and Australia, elaborating on how an employee can successfully bring an action against his/her employer for his/her psychiatric illness suffered at the workplace. The author employs doctrinal analysis from primary and secondary legal sources in arriving at the solutions to the above problem. This paper will significantly contribute to the existing literature by discussing the challenges faced by an employee in proving the conditions required by the law and its solutions to ensure that employee who suffered psychiatric illness or injury in the workplace has a redress under the law of negligence. This paper also considers the scenario from an Islamic perspective in order to shed light on the seriousness of the welfare of employee guaranteed by the religion. Having shown how divine revelation makes it incumbent on an employer to honour and respect his worker, and treat him in kindness, it will be further shown how two Court of Appeal decisions have paved the way to find employers negligent for causing distress to their employees’ mental health. This paper, thus illustrates yet another fine example of harmonisation between the two systems of law, that can come together to achieve the same end.
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