The management of Human Resources requires the HR practitioner to balance somewhat conflicting responsibilities. We must provide services that enhance effective, positive, pro-active employee engagement and, at the same time, ensure that all employees are compliant with organizational rules, standards and legislative requirements. Unfortunately the compliance requirements usually tip the scales into a negative perception of the Human Resources role and, sometimes, create an echoing negative response on the part of the HR practitioner.
Why? The Human Resources function often exposes the ugly side of human behaviour. We deal with people who are not at their best when they, as employees, engage in activities such as fraud or theft within the workplace. This behaviour seems particularly problematic when linked to workers’ compensation systems and the numerous parties accessing the benefits that these systems provide. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of suspicion and cynicism if we start to perceive that all employees are not at their best.
Fraudulent behaviour does happen and is perpetrated by some individuals. Occupational Health and Safety lawyer, Norm Keith, explores some of the specifics related to fraudulent workers’ compensation systems behaviours on the part of some employees, some employers and some third party medical practitioners.
Mr. Keith advocates for the development of a whistleblower reward program that would support and compensate individuals who come forward to report on those who are stealing from workers’ compensation systems. This is an interesting concept as it would allow for an increased responsibility for sharing ethical and legally compliant behaviours among all participants in a compensation system.
In the meantime this reporting responsibility continues to fall on the role of the Human Resources practitioner. We are the ones, especially if the health and safety function falls within our scope of duties, who must report and deal with the consequence of unethical and potentially fraudulent workplace behaviour. These are moral, ethical and legal obligations that deserve to be upheld in all workplaces.
At the same time we must remember that this type of behaviour is not the norm for the average employee, employer or medical practitioner. As such, we must continue to find the delicate balance within ourselves and in support of our professional roles.
- Identify three ways an employee, an employer and a medical practitioner could engage in fraudulent activities through a workers’ compensation system.
- Defrauding a workers’ compensation system is not a ‘victimless crime.’ Who is impacted by workers’ compensation fraud?
- As a Human Resources professional, what steps will you take when an employee comes forward with an allegation of workers’ compensation fraud by a co-worker?