Public servants "not recovering as quickly as they should"

by Stephanie Zillman15 Jan 2013

Compensation costs for stressed and injured federal public servants doubled last financial year – the bill ran to nearly $1 billion.

Comcare, the Federal Government's workplace compensation insurer, recorded losses totalling some $564 million for the 2011-12. In a public document released by Comcare, the insurer said the blow-out was the result of a number of adverse factors, namely:

  • An increasing number of people harmed at work, in particular the incidence of mental harm claims;
  • People harmed at work are not recovering as quickly as they should, evidenced by increases in the average duration of lost time for recent claims and poor return to work for long-term incapacity claims;
  • External economic factors such as the mismatch between market inflation expectations and interest rates.

The announcement of the loss coincides with a High Court appeal against a Federal Court order to pay compensation to a public servant who was injured whilst having sex during a work trip.

Related story: Compo payout for worker injured during sex

The findings of the High Court case are being touted to set a national legal precedent, drawing the line between injuries sustained at work and in private.

Acting CEO, Cathy Skippington, told News Limited yesterday that Comcare had dealt with a “moderate increase” in mental health claims during 2012. “People are much more aware of bullying now and the fact they don't have to put up with it,” she said. Mental health claims made up 8% of Comcare claims during 2011-12, and bullying accounted for nearly half of all mental health related cases. Three in every four claims related to “body stressing”, and 15% were caused by slips, trips and falls.


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