As the psychological fallout of COVID-19 continues, experts are warning businesses to prepare for further mental health issues and compensation claims.
SafeWork Australia (SWA) data reveals 34 per cent of the 533 COVID-19-related claims until July 31, 2020 related to mental health.
Each year, $607 million is paid for workers' compensation claims relating to mental health conditions, SWA figures show. Additionally, 7985 Australians are compensated for work-related mental health issues each year, comprising seven per cent of total claims.
Recent figures show diseases were responsible for 13 per cent of serious claims in 2018-19, with the most common being mental health conditions - making up 68 per cent of those claims, and nine per cent of workers' compensation claims overall.
Australian Chamber of Commerce Director WHS and Workers' Compensation Policy Jennifer Low says changes to the regulatory landscape, increases in mental ill-health and an increasing community and media focus have created a "perfect storm" for businesses into 2021.
"Employers should expect to see greater expectations on their management of poor mental health, increased claims and a greater focus on risk management by regulators,” she says.
Low explains that that the health response to COVID-19 comprises four waves, with the fourth and potentially widest-reaching wave relating to mental health.
She says the pandemic exacerbated several issues that affect employee mental health, such as domestic violence related to working from home and anxiety caused by constant negative news.
CCIWA has created a Mental Health Kit – a comprehensive guide to help businesses understand how to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.
It includes details on the legislative framework, what to do in a mental health emergency, how to have a conversation about mental health and performance management, among other issues.
For advice and guidance on work, health and safety matters contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our exclusive Members-only Business Toolbox Section for more.