Published: 15 February 2012
Author: Shaun Marcus
Non-English speaking workers are compo casualties - Safe Work Australia Report
If English isn't your first language, chances are you are missing out on injury compensation benefits.
A recent report released by Safe Work Australia reveals that workers with non-English backgrounds are up to one third less likely to claim for benefits if injured.
According to the report, only one in three (34%) of injured workers born in a non-English speaking country apply for workers compensation. That compares to a claim rate of 45% among workers born in Australia.
While the report does not delve into the reasons behind this discrepancy, it does accord with the experience of lawyers who advise non-English speaking workers on injury claims.
In my experience and that of my colleagues, workers who may not have a good grasp of English are often unfamiliar with WorkCover procedures for lodging claims. These people are not as aware of the extent of benefits offered to compensate and return workers to work. Sometimes they are also more reluctant to make a claim for fear of being dismissed.
Employees and employers alike should be keenly aware that it is illegal for employees to discriminate against a worker who makes a claim for benefits or compensation, and they can be prosecuted.
Workers from non-English speaking backgrounds should also be aware that WorkCover offers interpreter services to help people complete their WorkCover claim.
In addition, the WorkSafe website is available in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Serbian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Language should be no barrier to proper injury compensation.
Shaun Marcus is a Senior Associate with RCT who specialises in workers compensation.