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Protecting your practice from a rise in work cover claims


A spike in work cover claims is set to create major headwinds for employers across Australia, according to an HR expert.

By Emma Musgrave 10 minute read

Maureen Kyne, principal of Maureen Kyne & Associates, said she expects to see an increase in work cover claims as employees feel forced to return to an office environment, particularly if they become stressed or burned out after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

As such, managers need to have practical solutions in place, Ms Kyne said.

“Regardless of the challenges and factors that lie outside their control, bosses are exhausted, their mental health and well-being is being tested, so they run the risk of responding to situations the wrong way and that can have serious HR repercussions,” she said.

To combat the challenges of navigating a changed work environment, Ms Kyne shared five tips.

1. Foster a positive and empathetic environment 

Have regular check-ins with your employees to see how they are and whether they are coping. Ask them what work project or job is causing them stress or they won’t make a deadline and make a plan to work through your priorities and if additional hires will help, Ms Kyne said.

At the moment, the motto should be all hands on deck, not business as usual.

2. Consider changing deadlines and tasks 

Right now, with so much uncertainty, deadlines may be adding pressure not relief to workers so consider moving due dates for projects and be flexible about aligning the right people with the right tasks, Ms Kyne said.

You may have to delegate jobs to staff to cover for absenteeism so lower your expectations so the job gets done. The [worlds] less than perfect right now, so don’t demand perfection.

3. Prioritise work based on importance and urgency 

It’s essential you balance the workload of your workforce and staff don’t feel pressured when they are asked to take on [co-workers’] responsibilities, Ms Kyne said.

Employees are already working to capacity so when re-assigning work to cover sick leave, consider reaching out to the community, ask for volunteers or delegate some of the less essential or technical jobs to a junior.

4. Reduce meetings and start times

Feeling short of time is stressful so free up time by reducing the number of team meetings in the short term until you are back on track, Ms Kyne said.

Support for deflated and exhausted managers is paramount when dealing with aggrieved employees unhappy with changes to their employment hours, leave arrangements or work conditions brought on by the pandemic.

5. Delegate and trust decisions of your teams

With staff shortages, even the best bosses can’t do everything themselves. Delegate to other staff members and allow them to make decisions, Ms Kyne concluded.

By empowering others to make decisions, it will motivate them to step up and share the load.

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Emma Musgrave

Emma Musgrave


Emma Ryan is the deputy head of content at Momentum Media and editor of the company's legal publication, Lawyers Weekly.

Emma has worked for Momentum Media since 2015 and has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest stories in corporate Australia. In addition, she has produced exclusive multimedia and event content related to the company's respective brands and audiences.

A journalist by training, Emma has spent her career connecting with key industry stakeholders across a variety of platforms, including online, podcast and radio. She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).

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