In December, injured worker “C” shared his/her terrifyingly stressful story with us, and was kind enough to provide us (and our readers) with some damn good tips. Here is C’s long overdue workcover story.
I am glad I stuck to my guns – an injured workers stress-full story
My workcover story
Written by injured worker “C”
Early in 2008 a new manager started at work. At first she seemed ok but within weeks of her arrival she and a staff member ended up in mediation and he quite work.
Shortly after this another staff member left citing that he didn’t get on with her.
The warnings were there from the start.
I felt very wary of the manager but alarm bells were not ringing just yet that was – until late 2009 when my life at work started to became hell.
It started with the new tasks I agreed to take on at my performance review. I didn’t have the skills and experience to do the new tasks but I figured I would learn along the way and develop new skills – and that my manager would understand I was learning
But that’s where I got it wrong, my manager expected me to hit the ground running with those new tasks and be the office expert.
Usually people doing this task had either been to uni or mentored and supervised by more senior staff.
We also moved offices away from the people that I had been going to for advice and support.
I made mistakes, I wasn’t able to answer my managers questions, there was so much I didn’t know and my workload was becoming increasingly difficult to manage
I began staying back late to try and catch up.
But it seemed no matter what I did my manager wasn’t impressed and she showed it by regularly speaking to me in a sharp tone of voice
“You haven’t done so and so, why not, when are you going to do it, when are you going to learn it, you need to be across everything in your job description”.
The two or three hour performance reviews we had with the reprimands didn’t help either
Physically and mentally my health suffered and so did my marriage
I watched helplessly while she bullied my colleagues. I felt so intimidated and afraid of her.
One day she came and stood at my desk in my personal space and lectured me twice within a few minutes.
I went to a private space and was shaky and cried. Next day I went to see the doctor and had two weeks off.
Once back at work I knew things weren’t going to change so I lodged a report on my manager with HR
Work denied it and I lasted another 6 weeks. I went on two weeks annual leave (mid 2011) and never returned
I went down the legal path and after my claim was rejected by WorkCover and again at conciliation – the matter was (thankfully for C) sorted out at court Dec 2012
I had three IME’s that were stressful but each supported my case
As per standard practice all my counselling, medical records and superannuation were subpoenaed
At court I supplied records of my income
I tried to anticipate how the opposition may try to find my vulnerabilities but I didn’t succeed
(relayed by my barrister) – Some of the things they picked on were:
I contacted my superannuation co. a couple of years ago and got an estimate of my super balance as I was contemplating leaving work
I started a personal development course early last year and the opposition decided that the course and the super query meant that I was plotting to leave before I lodged the claim
I said, two years ago I was completely miserable and wanted to leave work and that the course helped me not to suicide
Apparently in the counselling notes it said I was struggling at work but I didn’t tell the counsellor I wanted to leave.
I said the counsellor knew I was miserable at work and we talked extensively about me leaving but I’m glad she didn’t write it down because it would have been misconstrued anyway
It’s a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.
I cleaned up my twitter and facebook but they found and my old defunct business website and knew I had an expired registered a business name
Despite it being really tough going in the end they made me an offer
Not what I had hoped for but something and I accepted. I didn’t want to go to court and I knew I needed be flexible.
Opposition knew I had a case so the two barristers worked it out, eventually it was settled in the court meeting room so I avoided going before the judge
Despite some of the naysayers I came across in the early days i.e. my previous doctor and counsellor at work who both declared I wasn’t going to win.
I feel like I’ve been through the wringer. I feel relieved but not properly healed. I’m not sure if the scars will heal or maybe I need more time
Some things I learned for anyone starting out
- You will need a good supportive doctor and solicitor
- I asked my solicitor if I had a case before I went the next step
- My solicitor filled out my Workcover claim
- Follow the advice of your solicitor
- You will probably go through a roller coaster of emotions and doubt yourself. It’s normal to feel this way
- Workcover play games and totally suck
- Be strong if you can and hang in there
- Try to be flexible when you go to court about settlement as opposition will find all sorts of reasons not to pay you
- If you can find ways to deal with your stress
- Stay away from the naysayers and surround yourself with positive people e.g. people on here
Thank you so much for sharing your story, C and, most of all for your invaluable tips when lodging a stress claim and undertaking legal proceedings. Thank you for sharing your immense courage – as you say it so well “sticking to your guns” is probably – of not the most- important lesson of it all!
[Post dictated and manually inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]