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Staff who gamble on company devices could pose a risk for employers

Date

Richard Willingham

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Employers may find themselves responsible for staff who gamble at work.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/staff-who-gamble-on-company-devices-could-pose-a-risk-for-employers-20140526-38z5u.html#ixzz32s5vemX0

Employers may find themselves responsible for staff who gamble at work. Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/staff-who-gamble-on-company-devices-could-pose-a-risk-for-employers-20140526-38z5u.html#ixzz32s5vemX0

People punting on their work computer or company-issued smartphone are a danger for employers at risk of breaching work safety rules if staff become problem gamblers.

The explosion of internet gambling has made access to betting almost instant on smartphones and computers. The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation estimates that 1 in 100 workers are likely to have a gambling problem.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week was launched on Monday with a major focus on gambling in the workplace.

Studies have shown there are 30,000 problem gamblers in Victoria, with another 100,000 people at risk of becoming gambling addicts. Internet gambling also attracts – and is targeted at – young, educated men with reasonably well-paying white collar jobs.

The foundation is warning businesses that they need to protect themselves and their staff about online gambling, and has called on companies to include rules around gambling websites in their internet usage conditions.

It has also suggested the use of internet filters to stop gambling in work hours.

"Employers from a health and wellbeing perspective need to be providing support as they do with a range of other things like mental health, but also from an OHS perspective, it's a risk they are exposed to," foundation chief executive Serge Sardo said.

He said gambling impacted on productivity through lost work hours – problem gamblers miss, on average, seven hours a week. There is also a risk that employees could undertake fraudulent behaviour or theft to fund their habit.

Former AFL football and sports broadcaster Wayne Schwass, a long-time mental health advocate, is also an ambassador for the awareness week.

"We have this disconnect between (where people think) issues around gambling are either at the casino, at the track or at home on the computer. But our life is intertwined with devices all day, every day and every aspect of our life, whether that be professionally or personally."

Law firm Holding Redlich senior associate Joel Zyngier, a specialist in workplace law, said problem gambling was a significant occupational health and safety risk.

He said under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all employers must ensure they provide and maintain a workplace which is safe and without health risks, including mental health.

"Because problem gambling is a health risk, it therefore activates an employer's duties under the Act," Mr Zyngier said.

"This means not taking reasonable steps to prevent gambling at work could be seen as a breach of this act, exposing an employer to risk of prosecution and penalties."

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3 comments

  • And if people use an office telephone to place a bet, is that an OHS issue? Whenever "well meaning" people suggest using an internet filter as a means of controlling staff (or the general population) and influencing people's behaviour, they have lost the plot and are very naive.

    Commenter
    Harley Mackenzie
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    May 27, 2014, 3:16PM
    • Is this article suggesting an employer can be sued for not blocking gambling sites from work computers. I disagree, when a business provides equipment, the onus is on the employee to use it as tool to perform their work duties, and nothing else. If the employee has been caught gambling on a company computer, they should be treated the same as if they were viewing pornography, - sacked.

      Commenter
      Kingstondude
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 28, 2014, 6:17AM
      • The acknowledgement of this workplace risk is progressive and pleasing, but how long will it be before the harm is recognised by common law in public places? It seems that 'clubs' that profit from large numbers of electronic gambling machines have either little interest in (or are restricted by gaming regulations for) intervening when staff identify a problem gambler using their 'services'. The clubs rake in millions of dollars--and rejoice in their profits--but are unable to identify the component that has been handed-over by problem gamblers, as cash changed is never receipted or registered against a member or guest. As long as they display 'Gamble Responsibly' signage their duty is complete. However, responsible gambling is never quantified and should be defined against income, if only as a starting point to provide the problem gambler with some measure. The Responsible Gambling Foundation is doing a great job but needs to do more to influence regulation changes to enable direct intervention by staff who identify or suspect problem gamblers.

        Commenter
        BrokenFamilyMan
        Date and time
        May 28, 2014, 7:02AM
        Comments are now closed