Workplace bullying and the strategies employed to deny stress claim payouts


We’ve written it countless times,  stress claims are one of the most difficult areas for WorkCover claims. Even though the workcover legislation provides that if your stress condition is caused or aggravated by work you should be provided with workers comp, insurers and employers will often misuse certain exceptions within the legislation to reject work related stress claims. These exceptions revolve around the “reasonable (management) action” taken in “a reasonable manner”.

Our co-author Trinny recently stumbled upon a story posted on the Workplace Bully and Corruption Whistleblower blog, by a South Australia based injured worker explaining how his stress claim became his worst unsuspected nightmare. The injured workers also writes that “It was as if his employer was being guided by some secret document. A ‘How to avoid stress claims’ type document”, and that such document really exists!

Workplace bullying and the strategies employed to deny stress claim payouts

Workplace Bullying: Do employers have strategies to avoid stress claim payouts?

By Rob McKibbin. Whistleblower in the South Australian Government since March of 2000

You feel you have no option other than the Workcover option. You have fought the workplace bully for what seems like an eternity. However, the problem remains. And, you get sicker with each passing day.

Whatever management says it is doing, is not working. Your doctor pulls the plug. Anxiety, depression, adjustment disorder…irrespective of the term, you are sick.

It was a gut-wrenching two years and seven months from my first complaint to my stress claim. Then I persisted with my war for a further six years before I felt compelled to resign.

As in my case, here in South Australia, the process begins with a Workcover Prescribed Medical Certificate (PMC) from a General Practitioner. This is what you attach to your Workcover Claim Form.

BOTH documents will detail your medical condition. Both will detail THE ALLEGED CAUSE.

And that, my friends, is when your worst unsuspected nightmare goes supersonic.

Put yourself on the management throne. By signing off on the Claim, legitimacy attaches to your declaration that your illness is directly linked to workplace bullying.

And if all goes your way – you actually survive – the only thing you have left to prove, in any legal arena, is that management sat back on its arse, as in my case, doing what it is very good at…nothing!

In my old workplace, the bully (now proven to have been a bully by a subsequent Disciplinary Inquiry) was one-down from the CEO. The Big Kahuna Number Two, the self-appointed deity who signed-off on EVERYTHING!

I was buggered, right from the get-go. It was like soliciting Caesar for a life membership of the RSPCA.

That sign-off does not happen overnight, or in the week after, or in the month after, or………

The South Australian Public Service AND the inept State Government created my experiences. The department I toiled for, the Office of the Public Trustee, an agency under the Attorney-General’s Department umbrella, was and still is a self-insured entity.

The only good thing I have to say about the self-insured position, is that I avoided being managed by one of those independent, profit-driven insurance companies. From all accounts, that was a godsend, in relative terms anyway.

In my case, I was sent to a Psychiatrist of my employer’s choosing. Moreover, the report from that employer-paid-for expert was a medico-legal report. It was NOT a medical report. There is a difference. And, if you ever wind up in a witness box, you will realise the report was not obtained to help you, the injured worker.

N.B. You have the right to obtain a report from a specialist of your choosing.

Now, getting back to my legitimacy attachment comment. Even though co-workers were managing me, the process was, for the sake of better words, both backbreaking and stress making.

It was as though that much-needed sign-off was as elusive as fluffy ALF returning from Melmac looking for another garage to crash through.

It was as if my employer was being guided by some secret document. A ‘How to avoid stress claims’ type document.

Do such documents exist? HELL YEAH!

Not for the first time, I received one such document yesterday. Prepared by a Law Firm for a government agency. It needs to be read a few times in order to transform your mindset from that of an injured worker to that of a bushwhacker.

When I first read it, I could not quite get my mentally damaged psyche around it. I was looking for the benevolent bits. I was assuming the needs of the employee were a consideration on some level, any level.

Then it struck me. The guide I was reading has nothing to do with the wellbeing and the interests of the worker. The guide is the 2011 version of the 15th century Malleus Maleficarum, the Witch Hunter’s Bible.

Because, I’ll tell ya, you feel like you’re being led to the bloody stake as you wind your way through the sea  of constantly popping-up obstacles on a ‘Talking Heads’ road to nowhere.

After my employer received the first psychiatric report, management was pissed. Human Resources, at the request of Big Kahuna Number Two, yep, the bully himself, penned a response letter asking the Psychiatrist to RECONSIDER his findings!

I HAVE THAT LETTER. Yep, my employer, a government agency within the Department of JUSTICE!!!

The Psychiatrist said NO!

I have that response, and it sure does make interesting reading. I got the impression Sigismund ‘Sigmund’ Schlomo Freud was wondering what planet he was communicating with.

Now folks, back to the nefarious employer Stress Claim Avoidance Manuals (SCAM) I mentioned.

Here are some tantalising extracts from a few of the (employer stress claim avoidance manuals) documents in my possession:
  • ‘…obtain the necessary information if you later want to claim an exemption from the statutory requirement to provide ‘suitable employment to the worker…’
  • ‘…obtain the necessary information required to dismiss the worker for incapacity in a legally effective manner…’
  • ‘…Dismissal by reason of disability is not unlawful if the worker is unable to perform their duties due to their disability…’And,
  • ‘…if a private sector company and a Government department were found to have breached their safety duty for the same issue, the private company could be fined or prosecuted but the government department would be issued with a Notice of Non Compliance…

I think it necessary to say that I do not believe all employers behave nefariously. I have knowledge of an  employer that dealt with the bullying problem decisively, and assisted the worker towards a full recovery.

Well…I know of one case.

Over the past few weeks, I have helped some people, people targeted by workplace bullies, people who are sitting at the crossroads, the same t-junction I found myself back in late-2002.

I turned right and filed a stress claim. I could have turned left, walked, and saved myself years of grief.

You are not the only one who will suffer. Factor in your family.

My best word of advice? HEALTH! Do not take on a system that is hell bent on self-preservation. Do not hop on that white horse if you know your health is on wobbly legs. It will not be worth it. Walk away. They are not worth it.

And, do yourself a huge favour. Google the word whistleblower. I doubt you will find a whistleblower who still has employment, who still has sanity, and who still has the life that was enjoyed before taking on the devil.

It is a cold world my friend. Take on bullying and the system, and it becomes a lonely world. Think carefully.

But…..would I do it again? HELL YEAH!

[Original source:]


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9 Responses to “Workplace bullying and the strategies employed to deny stress claim payouts”

  1. Ditto to everything Rob has stated…I am nearing the mediation compulsory conference in common law on the 13th of this month and I am dreading it. I have no doubt Crown Law have something up their sleeve to further their attack on this Government Department destroyed whistleblower. But I didnt fight for the past three years to let them think I will cower from their bullying either. Wish me luck I am going to need it LOL

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  2. Excellent story, thanks.

    remember!! everyone on workcover should FILM and VOICE RECORD all LAWYERSMEDICOS/DOCTORS, everyone involved in the STATE and or federal >>> CORPORATE <<< GOVERNMENT departments. keep all documentation (any paperwork – rehab/case manager letters etc.)(spy cameras, voice recorders – cost about: $90)

    Keep all your records even if you have trouble organizing it. if you have not been doing this

    >> Start Now<<

    ~ having said that do as you wish…. your choice whether you do this or not.

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    HuntingWorkcover June 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm
  3. Minister Pearce Drunk Threatened with Sacking

    I recall there were allegations of drunkenness during the workers compensation legislation being rammed through Parliament

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  4. O’Farrell you dumb turd you take advice from this lazy turd Pearce the pisshead any other business  they would be sacked

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    johnny rotten June 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm
  5. TRAINEE PCA at a private facility, new employment after 12 months of from a sexual abuse attack by our local doctor, finally had the courage to move forward and start again with trust being a huge issue on my mind and soul. Started work at the Lodge for Mentally handicapped and alcohol affected people ( ABI )… A FEW WEEKS IN REALSIED..,,this place was cruel, the manager was a drunk, came to work in her pj’s, vomited in the sink, brought two little children and not hers for us PCA’S TO BABYSIT AS WELL AS 26 MENTALLY, HIGHY MEDICATED RESIDENTS, she would scream the “Fuck ” word at the residents, control and manipulate the residents with their medication, starved them if they disobeyed, fed slop to them in the evenings, allowed the residents to lay in their urninated beds for the day, punished these mentally affected people for weeks if they did something wrong…
    I became so so mentally sick, the past catching up with me as I was witnessing bullying and being bullied myself by this manager, the place itself has such a high staff turn over, a death last year again negligence by the manager and the proprietor who makes $17,000 a fortnight from these residents and denies them medical, doctor, food, any normal activity, no OHS at this work place, no available Care Plan for the PCA’S… I BECAME A WHISTLE BLOWER AND REPORTED THEM, 16 weeks further still not back at work, denied compensation because I was abused 12 months ago and CGU state I was damaged from that!!! even though I was honest and my new employer promised I would not be myself until I had confidence, they were fully aware of my assault. Dept of Health stepped in, and found all my allegations true, they removed 3 residents immediately, brought an outside doctor in to re value the residents medication, the proprietor had breached 6 legislations of law and has refused conciliation through Human rights with me, the proprietor had to buy 26 new beds and supply locable lockers and a t.v for each room, from my allegations I have improved these residents lives but the manager is still there and I am not, so sick, on anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, the proprietor refuses to communicate and the Government with my trainee ship is stuck in limbo and reviewing my complaint against the proprietor of Queenscliff Lodge, so I am sick, my family stressed, no income and no job all for being honest and helping these poor residents.. Oh and the proprietor investigated my allegations and found them all flase and that I did not perceive the actions and the residents in the correct way, ( all humans should be treated with empathy and respect even if mentally disabled !!!!) then 4 weeks after her findings and report Dept of Health support all my allegations and her breaching 6 legislations and have 2 weeks to make notable changes and correct documentation to support the changes . MY LIFE IS HELL NOW, I AM THE CRIMINAL…..

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  6. Frances, bravo for your whistleblowing. Sorry to read your story and the stories of the poor residents subjected to so much abuse. It’s amazing what the insurers will do to oppose your legitimate claims. They claimed in my case that rapes that had happened when I was 19 were the reasons behind my breakdown at 51, not the severe and persistent bullying I had at work, which did, by the way retrigger all those earlier traumas.

    I think nothing will change till we drive private profiteers out of this equation.

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  7. Frances don’t sell your self short you possess so much strength to be able to battle through this. You are an inspiration.
    You blew the whistle perhaps its time for that whistle to scream to the media perhaps 60mins and your state and federal politicians.
    there are a number of whistle blower support groups out there

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  8. @Frances, you’ve done the right thing ethically and morally now feel proud of yourself and demand that you are to be placed in a non toxic, functional new home of employment, traineeship…. You have that right! And I’m sure many would agree with me!

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