How Can I Apply for Workers’ Compensation Stress Leave?

PUBLISHED 31 Aug 2020

Stress in the workplace is often unavoidable, and it can have a harmful effect equivalent to a physical injury. Workers’ compensation exists to provide financial support to employees forced to take time off from their jobs due to physical injuries, but can it help you if you have to miss days due to stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental health condition?

While the answer to that question is “yes,” with SafeWork Australia revealing 6% of all workers’ compensation claims in recent years have been for these issues, it can be complicated to make your claim successfully. 

Stress is a major inhibitor of employees’ well-being, with SafeWork’s data showing 92% of serious work-related mental health issues are caused by stress. If you are suffering from stress, it’s important to know what compensation options are available and how best to pursue your claim.

When Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Stress Leave?

The stress and related psychological injuries leading to a workers’ compensation claim must be tied to work pressures. This is a standard facet of all kinds of workers’ compensation – the problems cannot originate from the claimant’s home or personal life and must stem from experiences directly linked to that person’s employment.

A toxic workplace is considered to be a likely reason for a workers’ compensation claim for stress leave. In such an environment, conditions on the job become harmful and exacerbate the stress. Toxic workplaces may include:

  • Bullying
  • Sexual harassment
  • Exposure to traumatic events
  • Workplace violence
  • High levels of work pressure

Employers are protected from some liability if they can prove they took reasonable management actions to remedy the toxic environment – in these cases, it is harder for a claim to succeed.

How Do You Make a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Stress in NSW?

Workers’ compensation claims are treated with scrutiny by authorities. You notify your employer, and in some cases the company’s insurance provider, of the time, date and circumstances of the incident, as well as a detailed description of how it has affected you. This is obviously somewhat more complicated in cases of psychological harm than a physical injury visible on your body. 

Making a claim for psychiatric impairment typically involves receiving a diagnosis by accredited specialists, which is one of the factors considered, alongside test results or potential descriptions of the affliction from yourself and individuals who know you. The diagnosis process will determine whether issues are preexisting or tied to work-related stress.

What Types of Conditions are Associated with Work-Related Stress Injuries?

The six kinds of impairment associated with psychiatric claims include self-care and hygiene; social and recreational activities; travel; social functioning; concentration, persistence and pace; and employability. Each of these is measured to determine the net impact of work-related harm. Other factors considered when assessing the seriousness of a disorder include the potential effects of treatment, its likely duration and whether comorbidities such as personality disorders or substance abuse problems are directly linked to the condition.

How Much Can You Claim for Work-Related Stress?

When you make an injury claim of any kind, including psychological harm, you can seek coverage for your medical expenses. The length of the compensation period for medical fees is based on what percentage of permanent WPI you have suffered – less than 10%, 10-20% or 20% and up. 

 If you are experiencing a reduced capacity to work, you can make a claim based on an appropriate percentage of your pre-injury salary. The payments continue as long as you are fulfilling your return-to-work obligations, the insurer judges you unable to work and you have not exceeded the entitlement period.

In the case of permanent impairment, a condition unlikely to ever improve enough for you to complete work at your full capacity, you may be eligible for a lump sum payment. For psychological harm, a person must achieve 15% WPI to make a claim. In layman’s terms, this means you need to be functioning 15% less effectively than you could without the effects of stress and related mental health conditions.

Why Should You Have Expert Assistance With Your Workers’ Compensation Stress Leave Claim?

There are challenges associated with proving that you have indeed incurred measurable psychological injury from work-related stress and that the condition stems from your workplace. With the damage from mental health issues being virtually invisible compared to bodily injuries, it can pay to have expert legal advice from an early stage in the claims process.

With our no-win-no-fee guarantee, the workers’ compensation attorneys of Gerard Malouf & Partners will give your workers’ compensation claim for stress the attention and care it deserves. 

Call us now at 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment, or email your enquiry.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.