An injured worker in Western Australia has been jailed for 3 months for fraudulently obtaining more than $50,000 in weekly compensation payments. The injury occurred in 2009 when the man hurt his shoulder and was allegedly unable to work thereafter. He then began submitting certificates stating his incapacitation to work. However during the time between June 2010 and July 2011, when the man was collecting compensation he was also accepted work from various mining companies.
During his time in WA when he was working for these mining companies, the man continuously travelled to Victoria to visit his doctors and collect his incompetency certificates to continue collecting compensation which he arranged to be deposited into separate bank accounts.
An article on WorkSafe.vic.gov.au explains:
The court heard Howard was working at Ballarat Goldfields Pty Ltd in 2009 when he suffered a shoulder injury and began submitting certificates of capacity that stated he was unable to work.
But a WorkSafe investigation found Howard was working in Western Australia for various mining companies between June 2010 and July 2011.
The court was told Howard would regularly travel from WA to his medical practitioners in Victoria so he could continue receiving certificates that stated he couldn’t work.
He even organised for his compensation payments to be deposited into a separate bank account from his mining wages.
Magistrate Frank Jones convicted and sentenced Howard to nine months in jail, with six months to be suspended for two years. He was also ordered to repay $54,000.
WorkSafe Injury Support and Service Executive Director, Len Boehm, said the matter was a serious case of fraud which occurred over an extended period.
“The vast majority of injured workers, and there’s about 29,000 new claims every year, want to do the right thing, want their lives back and to get back to work but there will always be a minority that will be tempted to do the wrong thing,” he said..
“The challenge for us is to make sure we detect these people and hold them to account.
“The compensation system is set up to support people who have been hurt and help get them back into the workforce and wider community life as soon as possible.”
Workers who abuse the system like this are making it harder for everyone else and “stealing” money that should rightfully be going to people who are unable to work. It is important that the workers return to work on time and employers do all they can to facilitate a smooth and seamless transition for workers who return to work after an injury.
Employers should make plans for the workers return by obtaining the relevant information regarding the workers physical capabilities and what support and aids needs to be provided to the worker in order for him/her to successfully and safely perform their duties. Make these arrangements available to the worker involved and monitor his/her progress once they’ve resumed their duties.
A Return to Work Coordinator can assist an injured worker to remain at or return to work as soon as safely possible after injury, not only is the fair and right thing to do but it can aid workers in returning to their normal life. The job satisfaction and social interaction you receive at work can be the positive step needed to aid you in your recovery. Getting back to your daily routine can be good for your health and recovery, so as soon as you can do so without hampering your recovery the better.