Workers Compensation During COVID 19

In the wake of COVID 19, many workers are having to face the reality of working from home with no previous warning. The reality is that many workers have found that are ill equipped and poorly supported and resulted increase in workers’ stress level. Foyle Legal Compensation Claims team have received increased enquires about workplace stress since the onset of COVID 19. The typical complaints which has led to the potential allegation for workers compensation claims in WA are typically the following categories.

  • Lack of equipment

By law, the employer is supposed to provide adequate equipment to meet the work requirements. Many 9 to 5 workers need to have an home office set up to do more than 1 or 2 hours of work on consistent basis. Once COVID 19 hit, the situation changed. Some workers are required to work full time at home. At the beginning, some are coping well but as the situation prolongs, different issues are uncovered.  For example, do you know that chairs are made to different standards depending how many hours of continuous sitting you are likely to do on the chair?  

Prior to COVID 19, a chair rated for sustained 90kg of weight continuously for 2 hours may suffice and it will hardly ever cause any issues if you occasionally sit on the chair for 2 hours.  After COVID 19, many home office chairs or dinner chairs were then re purposed into an official office chair. It is now not uncommon to have enquiries regarding people that hurt themselves from a fall of the chair while working at home. Understand these circumstances, the first question we often asked was if the employer has conducted a work-form-home suitability test. If your home environment is not suited for working from home, a discussion with your employer suppose to take place to rectify the situation.

  • Lack of support

Working from home is not easy, especially you are used to working with an office of people where you can get support and bounce ideas from each other. For example, an online customer support employee often has the option to check with a senior colleague if he or she is unclear of the situation. Being at home and alone, the support has been taken away. Yet, the same support worker is supposed to provide the same level of service. This situation often results in the customer being unhappy with the support worker. Some may escalate the situation through complaint or other means, and it often results in stress to the support worker. 

  • Lack of training

Working from home needs discipline. If you are not used to working from home, it could be difficult. If you are working from home, you gain a level of freedom, but with the freedom it also comes with the danger of not able to focus.  

  • Increased demand & Unrealistic targets

If you have been working from home for a while, you probable realised it may take longer to get things done when you are not fully supported. But has your performance objective been adjusted to reflect the difficult situation you are facing? If not, you may found yourself facing an increased demand to perform in circumstance where you just can’t. 

From a legal standpoint, if you are in the course of your employment. You may be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. Workers Compensation Lawyers at Foyle Legal explains that the process of making a worker’s compensation claim is the same regardless of whether it is due to COVID 19 or not. The key differences are that it is harder to distinguish whether or not your injury is a result of general stress due to the pandemic or specifically work related. 

In order to be successful in a worker’s compensation claim, the injured worker needs to proof that the employment is the cause of a physical injury or psychological injury. 

  • If your injury occurred at the physical local of work, there often work mates around you that can witness it for you. When you are not at work, it can be hard to find a witness.
  • If you are at home taking care of the children because the school was closed. One may argue that your stress is partially contributed to family stress.

COVID 19 is unexpected and it has taken the world to its knees. Most people are getting busier just to cope. If you have made a workers compensation claim, it is best to leave the stress to run your claim to a specialist workers compensation lawyer to help so that you can focus on other important parts of your life.