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Compensation payouts to Tasmanian public servants on the rise, unions warn situation will worsen
ABC Tas, Jan 16
New figures show compensation payouts to Tasmanian public servants are at their highest level in five years, and unions warn the situation will worsen.
Payouts to public servants who become sick or injured on the job are rising, despite a decrease in the number of workers compensation claims.
The figures show that in the 12 months to June 30, 1,399 claims were made by public servants who became sick or injured on the job.
That is 50 fewer than the year before but there is concern the payouts rose to $34 million, the highest level in five years.
The Government put the increase down to a large one-off payout and inflation, but unions blamed budget cuts.
The Community and Public Sector Union’s Tom Lynch said stress was a growing cause.
He predicted the number of claims and size of payouts would rise as the Government’s budget cuts bite.
“There’s less of the sort of slip and those sorts of injuries and more of the psychological injuries that are very hard to manage,” he said.
“I think the way things have been rolling out, for example the Government’s budget cuts and the way that’s been implemented over the past 12 months, is making that situation worse.
“It’s certainly not making it better.”
Workers compensation lawyer Brian Hilliard said stress affected workers in many ways.
“The effect of stress can run from simply being unable to sleep to being unable to leave the front door,” he said.
More than 120 health workers in the south have lodged workers compensation claims since June and the number of personal leave days are rising, in a finding the union said could be costly.
“If that same trend is occurring across the whole of the public sector then the cost to the community is going to blow out drastically,” Mr Lynch said.
Unions are also concerned more injuries could occur as the Government axes more than 800 positions before July.
“When jobs are cut, because people are very driven by providing the service, they tend to cut corners and that’s when injuries can occur,” he said.
Tasmania’s public service has a higher rate of cases that end up in bitter disputes, a trend observed by Mr Hilliard.
“There seems to be a tendency for them to go very quickly to ‘can we get out of this?’, rather than ‘can we care for this person?'”
The Government denied any link between budget cuts and workers compensation claims and said it aimed to support workers to return to work as soon as able.