We recently had a client who had provided an employee with a warning relative to their performance. The employee had refused to follow some reasonable instructions and a subsequent argument ensued. As a result, the employee made an application to Fair Work of a Bullying complaint and lodged a Work Cover claim for a stress related injury. The bullying complaint was withdrawn by the employee at mediation with the Fair Work Commissioner as they could not substantiate the claim but the employee is now on Work Cover.
Why was the employee’s claim accepted as a Work Cover claim?
It was established in the argument that both employee and manager had raised voices, hence a correlation between work and the injury.
A sympathetic GP and a desire to milk the system has the employee on Work Cover for an injury which is difficult to argue against as ‘it is the perception of the employee that he was bullied’ and leaves the employer with little input to getting the employee off Work Cover. In the meantime the employer has to continue to pay costs relative to the claim and will see their Work Cover premiums skyrocket as a result.
The moral of the story – have documented employment policies and procedures in place, be very careful as to how you manage employees and always do a full due diligence on who you are going to employ.