12 September 2016
Trades Hall has called for WorkSafe to cancel the 2016 WorkSafe Agent Awards out of respect for injured workers, following the release of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into the management of injured workers compensation claims.
The report detailed a culture of agents describing terminated WorkCover claims as “wins”, undue employer influence over decisions, and deletion of evidence. Amongst the issues identified in the report:
- Insurers “Doctor shopping” for medical examiners who would deny injured workers’ claims
- Insurers cherry-picking evidence to drag out injured workers’ claims, even where insurers recognised their case was indefensible
- Agents scamming medical examiners by failing to provide complete medical histories
- Insurers offering agents bonuses for denying injured workers’ claims
- Insurers taking direction on cases from employers
But while agents celebrate denying injured workers their entitlements, the workers and their families suffer significant financial and psychological hardship, and in far too many cases, thoughts of suicide.
Victorian Trades Hall Secretary Luke Hilakari: “Dealing with WorkCover and battling insurance companies can be an isolating, frustrating experience that pushes many to the brink”.
“The previous five WorkCover agents were investigated and found failing. These are not isolated incidents, but systematic abuse of already injured workers in the blind pursuit of more money for the agents and their insurance companies.
“In one case study, a worker was sexually harassed and assaulted at work by their boss. Their claim for entitlements was accepted, then rejected, the overturned again – taking years off that person’s life to get an outcome. The worker committed suicide as a result. Days later, their family was notified the worker’s claim had once again been accepted.
“This system is costing lives not saving lives.
“Last year each one of these insurance agents received awards for “excellence” and “outstanding performance” – the same agents that the report today found had deleted information, changed dates and manipulated data. The Ombudsman report has found systematic and large scale failings by these very companies.
“I call on WorkSafe to cancel the 2016 Agent Awards, scheduled for later this year. After this report from the Ombudsman, it would be a disgrace to reward this behaviour.
“The directors of all insurance companies named in the report should have to explain themselves to WorkSafe.
“We welcome the Government’s quick response to the report, and WorkSafe’s commitment to implementing all recommendations.
Media contact: Edwina Byrne 0409 017 140