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Workplace stress is often inevitable, and it can have a debilitating impact comparable to a physical injury, simply because it’s not evident to the same extent. Workers’ compensation was created to help people who were forced to miss work due to physical injuries, but can it help you if you’re missing days due to stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or another mental health condition?

While the answer is “yes,” with SafeWork Australia reporting that these concerns account for 6% of all workers’ compensation claims in recent years, making a successful claim can be difficult. It can be difficult because not only can it be a little complicated, but you’re having to make such a claim when mentally you may not be up to it.

This is why it is very important to seek legal advice if you’re considering a stress leave claim. Also, very strict time limits apply in these matters. Call today for a free consultation, during which our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers can advise you of the best next steps.

Stress is a major detriment to employees’ well-being, according to SafeWork’s statistics, which show that stress is responsible for 92 percent of serious work-related mental health concerns. It’s critical to understand what compensation options are available and how to best pursue your claim if you’re suffering from stress.

It can be quite difficult to continue doing your job if you’re stressed, and it can have a significant influence on your general health and well-being. But what if your job is the source of your stress? What are your rights to stress leave in NSW, and can you file a workers’ compensation claim for it? In this post, we’ll go over all you need to know about stress leave in NSW, including the requirements around Workcover stress claims.

Is it possible to take stress leave?

“An employee can take paid sick leave when they are unable to work due to a personal sickness or accident,” according to Fair Work Australia. This can include things like stress and disorders associated to pregnancy.”

In other words, your employer should allow you to take paid sick leave if you suffer a stress-related disease. While this may bring some short-term relief, it is not a long-term cure for stress-related disorders that require treatment and may necessitate lengthier vacations from work.

In NSW, how long may you take stress leave?

Your employment contract in NSW determines your entitlements to some extent. The length of time you can take sick leave for a stress-related illness is determined by your yearly sick leave allotment and any additional leave allowances offered by your company. Many NSW workers are entitled to two weeks of sick leave each year, but this varies per employment contract.

If you successfully file a workers’ compensation claim for a stress-related illness caused by your employment, you may be entitled to a large period of paid time off without using up your sick leave, as well as a variety of other benefits to aid in your treatment and recovery.

Is stress leave compensated in NSW?

In NSW, there are a number of options for getting paid stress leave or compensation for stress-related illnesses:

  • You have the option of taking paid sick leave (under your leave entitlements).
  • If your job has caused you to develop a stress-related illness, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation (also known as a Workcover claim) to cover your wages and treatment while you’re off work.
  • You may be able to claim a lump amount for permanent impairment depending on the severity of your disease.
  • You may be eligible to sue for Work Injury Damages if your illness was caused by your employer’s negligence.
  • If you are unable to return to work, you may be eligible for a TPD lump sum payout from your superannuation fund.

There may be multiple compensation avenues available to you, but it is very important to seek legal advice early.

Is it possible to get workers’ compensation or Workcover for stress?

Stress is not covered under Workcover. However, if you suffer from a stress-related ailment known as a psychological injury, you may be entitled to file a claim. As a result, it’s critical that your GP diagnoses your psychiatric illness appropriately on your certificate of capacity, such as ‘Adjustment Disorder.’ If the doctor refers to your injury as “stress,” your claim will be denied.

The following are the most prevalent stress-related workers’ compensation claims in NSW:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder that (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Adjustment Disorder (AAD) is a mental illness that affects people

The following are some instances of occurrences that can lead to these conditions:

  • Workplace anxiety
  • A painful experience
  • Bullying\sHarassment
  • Working in hazardous conditions
  • Intimidation
  • A physical ailment

There are, of course, many other instances of stress that may manifest in a worker.

What is the procedure for filing a claim for workers’ compensation for stress leave?

Because you can’t claim for stress on Workcover, you’ll need to establish that you have a diagnosed stress-related condition before you can file a claim. As a result, the first thing you should do is seek therapy for your stress.

In NSW, you must file a workers’ compensation claim within six months of discovering your psychological impairment.

You’ll need to establish that your job played a substantial role in your illness – this is where a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can help you gather proof for your claim.

In New South Wales, how long may you claim Workcover for stress-related injuries?

In most cases, your weekly workers’ compensation benefits will continue in NSW until:

  • You’re free to go back to work.
  • You achieve an agreement on compensation for work-related injuries.
  • You’ve been getting payments for at least five years (unless your permanent impairment is greater than 20% and you’ve been determined to be unable to work indefinitely).
  • You’ve reached the upper limit for total weekly remuneration.
  • You achieve the age of retirement plus one year.

Is it possible to sue for work-related stress?

Although you cannot sue for stress, if you suffer diagnosed psychological damage as a result of your employer’s negligence, you may be able to sue for Work Injury Damages lump sum. To be eligible for this lump sum payment, you must:

  • Make a successful workers’ compensation claim
  • Have a permanent disability of at least 15%, and have the insurer’s or the Workers Compensation Commission’s evaluation accepted.

Seeking advice from a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer early can assist in maximising your compensation opportunity.

When you’re on workers’ compensation or stress leave, can you be fired?

Part 8 of the NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987 prohibits businesses from dismissing an employee who has suffered a work injury of any kind just because they are unable to return to work within the first six months. If an employer terminates an injured worker’s employment because they are unable to work due to the injury within this ‘protected time,’ the employer may be liable for a fine of up to $11,000.

Frequently Asked Stress Leave Questions

Is it possible to get paid compensation if I’m anxious at work?

Everyone gets pressured at work, but if your working environment has caused you long-term psychological harm, you may be able to file a stress-at-work claim. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are difficult to claim for, which is why you’ll need the help of an experienced compensation lawyer with expertise in stress at work compensation claims.

When filing a stress claim, what do I need to show?

To have a valid claim for stress at work, a current or former employee must meet the whole person impairment (WPI) level, which determines how much they have been affected as an individual. For psychological injuries, the WPI threshold is currently set at 15%, meaning the claimant must show that they are 15% worse off psychologically than if they had never had the injury.

What are the signs and symptoms of occupational stress?

When you’re under a lot of stress at work, you can notice the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Sleeping issues, apathy, and a loss of enthusiasm for job
  • Fatigue
  • Concentration issues
  • Tension in the muscles or headaches
  • Problems with the stomach
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Suffering from a lack of sexual desire

To cope, people often turn to alcohol or narcotics, which of course exacerbates the situation.

What are some of the things that can induce stress at work?

Scenarios that may generate occupational stress (and therefore be grounds for a compensation claim) include:

  • Workplace pressure to perform excessively
  • Workplace violence is a problem.
  • Having been exposed to tragic occurrences
  • Harassment of women
  • Bullying in the workplace

How long does it take to file a stress at work claim?

The length of time it takes you to file a personal injury claim for stress at work is determined by your specific circumstances. The complexity of your injuries, how successfully your stress at work solicitor can prove your medical condition, and the appropriate regulations in each state are all factors that can influence the length of your case.

By enlisting the assistance of a legal professional, you will be able to navigate the system with ease and collect the maximum amount of compensation for the work stress you have undergone.

When Should I File a Stress Claim with Workers’ Compensation?

Many workers suffer from stress, which is well-known. However, according to a 2016 survey by Reventure(1), about 30% of employees experience high levels of stress ‘often or often’ as a result of their work or other workplace factors. There are, however, treatments available for people who are under a lot of stress at work.

When Should You Resume Work?

An employee should do the following before attempting to return to work:

  • Request that a physician evaluate your need for time off from work.
  • Take the time away from work that is recommended.
  • Comply with all prescribed medications and/or therapies that are advised.
  • Keep your employer informed about your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Give an estimate of when you’ll be able to return to work.
  • Return to work for shorter periods of time at first, or start working remotely.
  • Increase your working hours in accordance with your doctor’s advice and your success.
  • Discuss with your supervisor and/or employer what modifications and/or improvements to your working conditions can be made to create a healthy environment.

While it may be tough to accept that you are suffering from incapacitating work-related stress, it is critical that an injured person take the steps necessary to protect their emotional and mental health. When you’re dealing with work-related stress, there’s no shame in acknowledging that you might need professional treatment and some time off.

How much am I entitled to in terms of stress claim compensation?

The amount of compensation you are entitled to is determined by the facts of your case. You should be able to acquire a decent understanding of your rights and entitlements, as well as the compensation you might expect, after consulting a legal expert and having them assess your situation.

Because there are stringent time constraints for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s critical that you obtain experienced legal counsel as soon as possible after your stress injury occurs to ensure that you don’t miss out on your chance to file a claim. Before taking any lump-sum payment from insurance, you should also get legal guidance.

What if my claim is denied by the insurer?

Unfortunately, your workers’ compensation insurer is more likely to challenge stress claims than other types of claims. This is usually owing to the fact that many claims involve the employee and the employer having significantly different perspectives of the same events.

A court or tribunal may find it difficult to determine whether perception is right, making it impossible to predict the likely outcome of court proceedings.

If your claim is denied or disputed by the insurer, depending on the specifics of your case, you may be eligible for further compensation. It’s possible that your case will be referred to a medical panel. To guarantee that your rights are not jeopardised as a result of a dispute with your workers’ compensation insurer, you should seek competent legal assistance for your stress claim.

Stress and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in numerous ways. Isolation is being created via quarantine and working from home. Existing employment is changing, making working conditions more difficult, and many people are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the loss of income. You should be aware that the COVID-19 epidemic may be causing employees additional personal stress, and as a result, stress leave requests may increase during this time.

For anyone afflicted by the virus, the Australian government is subsidising psychological counseling sessions through Medicare. You should consider bringing these and other services to the attention of your employees to assist them in preserving their mental health and well-being. Additionally, if you have any support programs or psychiatric services available as an employer, you should consider investing in them to help your staff.

Furthermore, Safe Work Australia includes thorough information on how to conduct risk assessments, comply with physical separation standards, implement hygiene measures, and adequately clean and disinfect the workplace to protect workers and others from Covid-19 exposure. These can all be available on their website and provide more strategies to improve workplace safety, which can help employees feel less stressed.

What to Do Next

As mentioned frequently in this article, getting legal advice early is crucial. At Law By Dan, our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers are all Accredited Personal Injury Specialists. This means that they are deemed by the New South Wales Law Society as being in the top 5% of compensation practitioners. You can discuss your stress claim during a free consultation with one of our lawyers.