Stressed Aussie workers seek COVID compo
Teachers and public servants are among stressed and depressed workers demanding compensation payouts for mental injuries caused by COVID-19.
Work Safe Australia has revealed that 533 workers have applied for COVID-19 compo - including staff who never caught the virus.
One in three claims relates to the "mental health impacts'' of COVID-19, with teachers the most likely to seek compensation.
The new data reveals that 95 claims, lodged between March and the end of July, were rejected because the disease was not caught at work, or a positive COVID-19 test was found to be negative.
Safe Work Australia said 38 per cent of claims related to catching COVID-19, with 202 workers seeking payouts for having contracted the virus at work.
Employees lodged 179 claims for "mental health impacts related to the virus'', while another 152 claims involved compo payouts for testing or isolation requirements.
Health care workers lodged one in three claims, with another 17 per cent from public servants, police officers or defence personnel.
The education and training sector - including teachers and childcare workers - as well as public administration and safety staff - including public servants and police officers - are the most likely to claim compo for mental health.
Sales workers and labourers were the least likely to lodge COVID-19 compensation claims.
Community and personal service workers, professionals, office workers and managers were more likely to claim COVID-19 compo.
Most claims were lodged in NSW, which had 299 claims compared to 75 in Victoria - which had a far higher number of cases and tougher lockdowns.
Queensland had 68 claims, with 59 in Tasmania, 12 in Western Australia, four in South Australia, five in the ACT and four in the Northern Territory.
Seven Commonwealth public servants have sought compensation, mostly for mental health.
The Safe Work Australia data does not reveal how much claimants were paid, as payouts vary between states and territories.
In a circular to employers, Safe Work Australia warns that the COVID-19 pandemic has "introduced and increased a range of psychosocial hazards in the workplace'' - including overwork and bullying.
Dangers include concern about exposure to COVID-19 at work or insufficient personal protective equipment such as masks.
Workers are also copping more work-related violence, aggression and rudeness from patients and customers.
Staff are seeking compensation for stress from increased workloads - such as supermarket home delivery drivers doing more deliveries and working longer hours.
Isolation from working at home or physical distancing "results in feelings of not being supported'', Safe work Australia says.
It warns of an "increased risk of workplace bullying, aggression and harassment'', as well as "workplace racism, discrimination or stigma'' against staff who are seen as at high risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
And it cites a "deterioration of workplace relationships as competing demands lead to less regular and effective two-way communication''.
Originally published as Stressed Aussie workers seek COVID compo