The Mentally Crippling Side of Worker’s Compensation
When an employee is injured at work there are many problems that may lie ahead for them in the future. The obvious repercussions of a work-related injury can be that the employee is in too much pain to return to work months or possibly years after the injury has occurred. Even after a worker’s compensation claim is made, it takes time for it to be processed and for the worker to receive any financial compensation. In the meantime, the employer may begin to suffer from post-injury depression.
At no fault of their own, suddenly an employee can be left with little or no money whilst they wait for a worker’s compensation claim to be processed. Whilst the injured employee cannot work to make a living, normal household bills such as the mortgage and the general cost of living still need to be paid for. So what happens now? The employee will likely return to doctors and specialists to have their injury re-examined time and time again to ensure they are legitimately injured. Whilst this is the case, worker’s compensation continues to pay the employee for their time off work, though not for long. In a recent worker’s compensation case I saw the employee’s benefits been dropped down to 65% after 6 months off work. Due to this the person could not afford their bills and so forced themselves back to work despite a crippling injury. After two days of work the employee’s injury got much worse and they were forced to stop working and return to the doctor. No extra benefits were given and the employee was told they needed to spend three months looking for work in order to continue receiving any worker’s compensation.
Throughout the process of making a claim through worker’s compensation, the employee often feels alienated from their boss and colleagues, may be told by doctors that their incredibly painful injuries are only minor and to top it off are struggling enormously with financial hardship due to a lack of income. The inability to return to work due to an injury can also cause severe anxiety.
As well as severe anxiety, the above issues can all too often see an employee suffering from post-injury depression. A condition for which it is extremely difficult if not impossible to claim through worker’s compensation. Despite an employee feeling helpless, worthless, undervalued, forgotten or alienated, the cost of providing mental health services is very high. Unfortunately this means a minor injury can leave an employee crippled with depression as well as their workplace injury. In some cases, this has led to suicide of the injured employee.
How can you help?
If you have an employee that has been injured at work, try your hardest to support them in ways that may go beyond the scope of your professional relationship. Offer a ride to the doctor’s surgery once in a while, call them to ask how they are and continuously follow up with them to let them know you care. If an employee feels valued and cared about, this can positively affect their mental capacity to overcome anxiety as well as their injury. As a result, the employee is able to return to work sooner and is likely to remain working for the company who has shown them support through a difficult time.
Simone Ortolani – freshHRinsights