Why women are making more work compo claims


WOMEN are more likely than blokes to break down on the job, lodging 60 per cent of compensation claims for mental illness last year.

WorkCover payouts for "psychological injury" from stress, harassment or bullying at work soared nearly 20 per cent to $70 million in Queensland in 2018-19, The Sunday Mail can reveal.

Psychological injury payouts averaged $47,565 per claim - 2½ times more than payouts for physical injuries ranging from broken backs to industrial deafness.

Women lodged 60 per cent of the 4884 psychiatric injury claims last year, when the number of claims for nervous breakdowns jumped 10 per cent.

Experts yesterday blamed women's work-life juggle for the surge in compensation claims for depression and anxiety.

Mental Health at Work managing director Ingrid Ozols said women tended to "juggle" more than men.

"They are caring for children, perhaps caring for an older relative, and they're trying to balance work," she said.

"In the workplace there's often more work to be done, and more deadlines, and that puts more pressure on people.

"It could be a toxic work environment, you could be in conflict with someone you work with, and you can't cope."

WorkCover - the State Government's insurance scheme for workplace injuries - paid out a record $1 billion for 95,000 claims in 2018-19.

More than 2800 injured workers also took their employers to court, winning an average of $157,531 in damage payouts.

Maurice Blackburn law firm partner Rod Hodgson said more women worked in white-collar jobs where mental health claims for "harassment, bullying, overwork and stress" were more common.

"We continually see cases where people have been working away doing a good job and are subjected to appalling behaviour by companies and managers," he said.

"It's harassment, bullying and unreasonable conduct.

"Police, nurses, ambos and fireys often get exposed to challenging and upsetting circumstances and it's common enough to not be provided with the support they need to deal with serious psychiatric distress."


Women are often the victims of harrassment and bullying at work, according to Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson.
Women are often the victims of harrassment and bullying at work, according to Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson.


Nationally, women are nearly three times more likely than men to seek compensation for a mental health condition, new statistics from Safe Work Australia reveal.

Psychological injuries accounted for 12.2 per cent of women's compo claims, compared to just 4.9 per cent of men's claims, in 2017-18.

Across Australia, women lodged 60 per cent of the 8095 "serious claims" for compo over work-related stress, anxiety and depression.

"Mental stress" payouts averaged $32,000 nationally - much more than the $13,800 for being hurt in a car crash, $16,100 for falling from a height or $11,000 for being assaulted at work.

In Queensland, workers with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and adjustment disorder, took an average of five months off work, compared to less than two months for workers with physical injuries.

More than half the claims for mental stress were thrown out after WorkCover found bosses had taken reasonable disciplinary action for poor performance or set achievable job targets.

Workers cannot claim compensation for mental health problems caused by "reasonable management action".