Bullying compo payout hits $250,000

TAXPAYERS have already paid about $250,000 in compensation to three people who had claims of bullying-induced stress approved against a Tasmanian senator.

And The Examiner  understands more staff are preparing to make a claim, while others are beginning to band together to investigate a potential class action against the senator.

Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley has denied specific allegations of bullying, but confirmed Commonwealth workplace relations body Comcare investigated her Launceston office this year after three current and former staff in six months lodged claims alleging the behaviour.

All three claims were approved. Two of the recipients have been guaranteed a portion of their salary for two years, while a third could feasibly be entitled to a portion of their salary for up to 12 years. 

All medical expenses related to the workplace stress have been covered by Comcare.

Comcare inspectors met  Senator Polley in Launceston yesterday to review her implementation of recommendations from the review, which includes better workplace health and safety training for staff, dispute resolution processes and clear duties statements for staff.

Senator Polley said it was the last of several reviews connected to the inquiry.

``I am pleased to advise that the Comcare representatives were completely satisfied that all recommendations are being or have been implemented,'' Senator Polley said.

``This means that Comcare has finalised all involvement with my office.''

Senator Polley downplayed the report, which declared her office had an ``unhealthy workplace culture'' that had an ``adverse impact on the morale, health and well-being'' of some staff.

``The Comcare report outlined a series of recommendations to improve the workplace health and safety of my office,'' Senator Polley said.

``It did not find any past or present staff member, including myself, contributed to, or was at fault.''

Staff subject to Comcare claims also met  inspectors yesterday. They have also lodged a complaint with Workplace Standards Tasmania.

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