A recent Return to Work Study concluded that GPs are'reluctant' to follow through with psychological WorkCover claims. This was attributed to the onerous and challenging nature of the workers' compensation regime. The study noted that dealing with this system can also cause additional psychological harm, which GPs are keen to avoid.
While we acknowledge the harshness of this regime, if patients present complaining of work-related psychological problems, we recommend that claims are followed through. Patients may be entitled to benefits even if the injury is not'severe'.
No fault benefits
WorkCover provides benefits to those injured at work, irrespective of negligence. However, employees claiming compensation under the no fault system for psychological injuries, (common in bullying claims), are subject to the'reasonable management action' defence which often leads to rejected claims.
When seeking a lump sum payment, claimants must satisfy a 30% impairment test. This is a high threshold, where the claimant would be largely incapacitated with extreme psychological damage. Comparatively, for TAC claims, the threshold is only 10%.
Pursuing common law claims
To pursue damages at common law, if the 30% impairment is not satisfied, claimants must demonstrate a 'severe' psychological injury. This is a higher test than the 'serious' injury requirement for physical injuries and employers are likely to deny negligence.
Why you should pursue these claims
Despite these barriers, there is now greater awareness of the extent to which mental health problems affect employees and the prevalence of stress-related injuries in certain professions. Employers benefit socially and economically by remaining aware of potentially harmful conduct and practices taking place on their watch.
By pursuing WorkCover claims, employees can encourage change throughout the workplace. While claims might not be successful, employees may gain informal recognition of their injuries through internal dispute resolution, which can be rewarding for claimants and lead to positive outcomes.
You can access more information via the medical provider portal on our website.
This article was originally published in the 'Legal Check-Up', a quarterly publication for medical and allied professionals. The publication is written by the legal team at Redich's Work Injury Lawyers and covers a variety of legal topics and issues relevant to medical and allied practice. If you would like to join our mailing list, or read previous editions of the newsletter, click here.