What duties does a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) have to workers outside of Australia and how do they meet these duties? Do the work health and safety laws of the parent country of the worker apply?
The harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and Regulations do not apply to employees of private companies working overseas as these laws do not have extraterritorial application. Instead, a PCBU must comply with the applicable safety laws in the foreign jurisdiction for these workers.
Separate from WHS duties, you should also be aware that employees of a PCBU may still be entitled to workers’ compensation for any overseas work injury, or could sue the business for negligence if an injury resulted from a failure of the common law duty of care owed by the PCBU to them. In this regard, there are still steps that an employing PCBU will need to take to ensure the safety of their workers when operating out of overseas jurisdictions, in addition to those that apply under foreign law.