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Start RTW immediately with Psycho social claims. Nov 25th, 2014
It is no secret workplace psychological injuries represent a huge burden both on the individual and their family as well and workers’ compensation schemes and society generally. Comcare reported in the 4 years to June 2010 10% of claims were attributed to ‘mental stress’ and these amounted to 35% of total claims costs.

As a result between 2007 and 2010, there were more than 17,000 ‘mental disorder’ claims at an average cost of $19,600 per claim.

Liability or Return to Work.  You Can Do Both

The huge impact and potential for exacerbation with a psychological injury leads to a focus on the liability issues at the expense of managing the employee. The patient is often left to sit at home pending the investigations and not surprisingly this does little to soothe the waters.

Most workplace psychological injuries do not happen overnight but in fact can fester for some time with employees typically showing signs like erratic behaviour, disengagement and withdrawal, more unplanned absence, increased workplace conflict and deterioration in work performance.  Consequently by the time a claim is made the worker is likely highly susceptible to what happens next.

The question of course is do they have a valid claim that needs to be addressed as per the appropriate channels but nonetheless you still have an employee with rights under the Fair Work Act (e.g. you cannot just sack them) you need to manage.

Stay At Work Should Be The Focus

There is lots of information about the Health Benefits of Work.  Safe Work Australia also supports the Stay at Work position for mental ill health as outlined in their Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022; and that is what you need to discuss with the Treating Doctor.

At times you should involve a Workplace Rehabilitation Provider sooner rather than later. Rehabilitation Consultants, as a party external to the company, brings impartiality to the table and is also skilled in complex case management.

The Right Support Is Necessary

In the event of a workplace psychological injury there is no easy or one size fits all solution and an open and sensitive approach is necessary to understand the issues for the injured worker along with those of the employer.  It is important to establish communication and commence the return to work discussion. 

With the right support time off with a psychological injury need not be seen as standard or essential practice and your challenge is to make that happen.


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