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Bullying In Workers Compensation Claims

The Macquarie University Centre for Workforce Futures conducted an enquiry in relation to allegations of bullying in WorkCover NSW system during 2014 and 2015.

The survey found that there was a wide spread culture of bullying and that more than a quarter of workers who had claimed workers’ compensation in NSW experienced some bullying by WorkCover, the insurer, scheme agents, employers or rehabilitation providers.

The survey found that almost a quarter of all those who had made a claim for workers’ compensation had been bullied, threatened, or intimidated by the insurer during the life of their claim. In our practice we regularly see this bullying behaviour and unfortunately this bullying trend seems to be worsening. There is increasing hostility towards claimants in the workers’ compensation system as well as failure to support injured workers in their endeavours to return to work.

An Excerpt from the Report

The report states:

“It is unfortunate, yet well understood, that workers who claim compensation for work place injuries are likely to be subjected to stigma, bullying and discrimination. The study confirmed that workers are, indeed, discriminated against and [have suffered the stigmatisation] of being a worker’s compensation claimant. Several workers explained that they had been “good workers” who did the right thing” and worked hard. Yet they described how as soon as they made a claim for worker’s compensation the employer’s attitude towards them changed. Two workers even claimed that they had been blacklisted by their employer so their colleagues and friends were prohibited from making contact with them.”

Common Bullying Tactics

Our clients often report that their insurer or case managers have made derogatory comments about why they have not returned to work or why they have not been able to increase their hours of employment. These comments imply that the insurer thinks the injured worker is somehow “bludging” or not trying their best to return to work.

This behaviour makes the injured workers feel like they are a criminal, rather than someone who has been the subject of an unfortunate accident. Most people do not wish to sustain an injury at work and most people wish to get back to meaningful work as soon as possible. There is no doubt that a persons’ psychological health dramatically improves when performing meaningful work.

However, some injuries prevent people from returning to their pre-injury duties. Other times the workers’ injuries may take a significant period of time to heal which means that the worker takes a very long time to return to work on restricted light duties, let alone on a full time basis. The insurers’ attitude seems to be one where they wish to return people to any type of work as soon as possible following an injury, no matter what the consequences, even when such a return to work has been demonstrated by the workers’ doctors to be detrimental to their health.

A favourite tactic of the insurer is to arrange a “case conference” with the injured worker and their nominated treating doctor. The stated purpose of the case conference is to discuss injury and treatment with the nominated treating doctor and the injured worker so a plan can be arranged in relation to a graduated return to work. However, what really occurs at these meetings is the claims officer placing great pressure on the nominated treating doctor to change the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity to either certify a worker fit for suitable duties or to increase the hours and the duties that the worker is fit to undertake. This pressure can be in forms of suggestions. For example, the claims officer may suggest that if the doctor does not update the certificate the workers’ benefits may be affected.

For some reason, nominated treating doctors often listen to the claims officer rather than relying on their own clinical judgement to determine the nature and type of duties that are suitable.

Often injured workers are returned to work well before they have recovered from the injuries which as a direct consequence usually results in further or additional injury.

What can I do if I am Bullied or Pressured by my Claims Officer?

There are a number of things you can do to try and alleviate this bullying, including:

  1. Limiting the amount of direct contact you have with the claims officer over the phone. The claims officer will be more reluctant to put in writing suggestions that an injured worker is not making their best effort to return to work.
  2. If a case conference has been arranged with your nominated treating doctor, you should meet with the nominated treating doctor before the claims officer is allowed into the meeting. You have the right to refuse the claims officer to attend with you when you are talking to your nominated treating doctor about your injury, condition, and treatment. At that time you should raise the issue of your work capacity with your nominated treating doctor and advise them that it is likely that the claims officer will try and pressure the doctor to increase the suitable duties and hours on the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity. If you have agreed with your nominating treating doctor before the claims officer enters the meeting what are the appropriate suitable duties and the hours you can perform then the doctor is unlikely to change his or her mind.
  3. If the bullying continues you should make a complaint by email to the claims officer’s supervisor within the workers’ compensation insurer. This may not have a great effect on stopping the bullying as there appears to be a culture within insurers to condone such bullying however it does provide a paper trail of complaints.
  4. If a complaint to the supervisor does not work, then a complaint should be made to the WorkCover Independent Review Officer (WIRO) on 13 94 76 or a complaint can be submitted online at www.wiro.nsw.gov.au. WIRO’s role is to assist injured workers with any disputes, complaints or issues that they have with workers’ compensation insurers.
  5. If WIRO is unable to assist further with your complaint then you should contact an experienced accredited specialist in personal injury law who may be able to assist you with lodging an Anti-Discrimination Act claim or such similar proceedings.
Garling & Co Lawyers

Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law approved by New South Wales Law Society. He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia. Matthew is also a member of...
Kimberly B.
23:14 14 Feb 24
Mathew is very knowledgable and has been of great assistance to me. All the staff are friendly and helpful. I'm so happy I found this firm.Thank you Mathew and team for your great work in my case.... I am 100% happy with what you achieved for me.read more
Julie M.
10:16 16 Jan 24
My last stage of Workers compensation claim was managed by Emma Perkins, Natasha Stojanovic, Rebecca Dunshea and Kelli Robinson at Garling and Co. Lawyers who went the extra mile with their service... from the beginning to the end of 3 years of my case. I have become very anxious with almost everything after a workplace injury and a lot of times I probably ask more questions than I need to, but Emma Perkins always finds clear answers to my questions in a short time and explains to me patiently even using her mealtime or between her meeting and make me feel that I have been very well take care and supported. I am so grateful and extremely satisfied. The excellent service, attitude, and culture of Metthew Garling and his team are second to none with a very high success rate. If you going to battle with your workplace injury for a short or long period, you are better off with Garling and Co. lawyers who are able back you up every step of the way. I strongly recommend it to anybody who needs their service like me. Julieread more
patrick P.
01:46 19 Dec 23
I like to say that I had a very wonderful experience,And the support, and also understanding with all my requests,I could not ask for a better team!Thank you Emma and also her assistant Rebecca... thank youread more
Kazi H.
13:38 13 Dec 23
Work cover fund is GOVT’S money but insurer think that it is from their 14th generation. So only they can have it. Not only that, people from the work, IME doctor from insurer, back to work... coordinator from work, Rehab provider from any side push the worker as hard as possible that the worker (doesn’t matter how the workers mental or psychical condition) either go back to his pre injury duty or leave the job.More over on that very bumpy any difficult journey some of them only treat the worker as a MONEY MAKING MECHINE .in some point worker feels like, no rooms to breath. On that moment need someone to support legally, someone to care, someone to relive.On my case I believe that, somehow, I manage to make my God happy. That’s why God sends me to Matthew Gerling and his team Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, and all of GARLING & co Lawyers.I am not good enough in English, can’t express my gratitude.Matthew, Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, please accept my appreciation and pass it to others.read more
Carol L.
01:32 29 Nov 23
Professional, understanding and friendly
Sean G.
23:21 14 Nov 23
Matthew Garling and everyone I spoke to at Garling and Co were kind, caring and compassionate. They were sensitive to my psychological condition and were patient in explaining everything to me, so... that I clearly understood the legal process. I am exceptionally grateful for the settlement outcome that Garling and Co obtained for me. Many thanks.read more
waqas A.
08:33 13 Nov 23
Great Experience with Garling & Co. Matthew explained everything in detail during the first appointment. Allison, Nathan, Rebecca and the staff have been extremely helpful. Thank You to the team and... lawyers at Garling & Co. for making the long process easy for me and getting an excellent outcome for my compensation claim.I would highly recommend Garling & Co. Lawyersread more
Saskia L.
21:42 08 Nov 23
The world of workers compensation is long, hard and confusing, but Emma and Rebecca at Garling & Co always treated my case with kindness, respect and understanding. No question was ever silly and... they always had time to make sure I knew what would happen next and how we could best prepare. I am so thankful for their expertise and could not have chosen anyone better to represent me.read more
Antonio P.
08:46 06 Nov 23
Thank you Matthew and his team for taking care of my case couldn’t ask for a better results and couldn’t have better team to do that thank you
Julie M.
00:40 06 Nov 23
Garlic & Co Lawyers have been wonderful, supporting me through some difficult times. With their assistance, positive outcomes were achieved. Many thanks to the Team.Julie
READ ALL TESTIMONIALS

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Kimberly B.
23:14 14 Feb 24
Mathew is very knowledgable and has been of great assistance to me. All the staff are friendly and helpful. I'm so happy I found this firm.Thank you Mathew and team for your great work in my case.... I am 100% happy with what you achieved for me.read more
Julie M.
10:16 16 Jan 24
My last stage of Workers compensation claim was managed by Emma Perkins, Natasha Stojanovic, Rebecca Dunshea and Kelli Robinson at Garling and Co. Lawyers who went the extra mile with their service... from the beginning to the end of 3 years of my case. I have become very anxious with almost everything after a workplace injury and a lot of times I probably ask more questions than I need to, but Emma Perkins always finds clear answers to my questions in a short time and explains to me patiently even using her mealtime or between her meeting and make me feel that I have been very well take care and supported. I am so grateful and extremely satisfied. The excellent service, attitude, and culture of Metthew Garling and his team are second to none with a very high success rate. If you going to battle with your workplace injury for a short or long period, you are better off with Garling and Co. lawyers who are able back you up every step of the way. I strongly recommend it to anybody who needs their service like me. Julieread more
patrick P.
01:46 19 Dec 23
I like to say that I had a very wonderful experience,And the support, and also understanding with all my requests,I could not ask for a better team!Thank you Emma and also her assistant Rebecca... thank youread more
Kazi H.
13:38 13 Dec 23
Work cover fund is GOVT’S money but insurer think that it is from their 14th generation. So only they can have it. Not only that, people from the work, IME doctor from insurer, back to work... coordinator from work, Rehab provider from any side push the worker as hard as possible that the worker (doesn’t matter how the workers mental or psychical condition) either go back to his pre injury duty or leave the job.More over on that very bumpy any difficult journey some of them only treat the worker as a MONEY MAKING MECHINE .in some point worker feels like, no rooms to breath. On that moment need someone to support legally, someone to care, someone to relive.On my case I believe that, somehow, I manage to make my God happy. That’s why God sends me to Matthew Gerling and his team Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, and all of GARLING & co Lawyers.I am not good enough in English, can’t express my gratitude.Matthew, Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, please accept my appreciation and pass it to others.read more
Carol L.
01:32 29 Nov 23
Professional, understanding and friendly
Sean G.
23:21 14 Nov 23
Matthew Garling and everyone I spoke to at Garling and Co were kind, caring and compassionate. They were sensitive to my psychological condition and were patient in explaining everything to me, so... that I clearly understood the legal process. I am exceptionally grateful for the settlement outcome that Garling and Co obtained for me. Many thanks.read more
waqas A.
08:33 13 Nov 23
Great Experience with Garling & Co. Matthew explained everything in detail during the first appointment. Allison, Nathan, Rebecca and the staff have been extremely helpful. Thank You to the team and... lawyers at Garling & Co. for making the long process easy for me and getting an excellent outcome for my compensation claim.I would highly recommend Garling & Co. Lawyersread more
Saskia L.
21:42 08 Nov 23
The world of workers compensation is long, hard and confusing, but Emma and Rebecca at Garling & Co always treated my case with kindness, respect and understanding. No question was ever silly and... they always had time to make sure I knew what would happen next and how we could best prepare. I am so thankful for their expertise and could not have chosen anyone better to represent me.read more
Antonio P.
08:46 06 Nov 23
Thank you Matthew and his team for taking care of my case couldn’t ask for a better results and couldn’t have better team to do that thank you
Julie M.
00:40 06 Nov 23
Garlic & Co Lawyers have been wonderful, supporting me through some difficult times. With their assistance, positive outcomes were achieved. Many thanks to the Team.Julie
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
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