Extravagant work perks: tai chi, anyone?

MANY moons ago, when I worked in radio marketing, I spent a weekend at a lovely resort in the Whitsundays as part of a “team building” exercise.

It was two days of early starts, group meals and beach-themed challenges designed to bring us all closer together; it was all a bit naff and clichéd, but an all-expenses-paid weekend in Airlie Beach is nothing to be sneezed it. I’d do it again, given the opportunity.

In any event, it still stands out in my mind as the most extravagant ‘work perk’ I’ve ever received.


But workplace perks these days seem to be much more interesting, especially if you work in the public sector, reported The Bulletin.

All manner of unusual benefits have been provided to employees, including music therapy, yoga classes, tai-chi lessons, life coaching and personal training sessions.

Commonwealth employees can even access ‘meditation retreats’ on the public purse, according to information provided to News Corp by the Department of Employment. That means they’re literally being paid to do nothing. Seems fitting…

To be fair, these benefits are not being provided to all and sundry.

They’re specifically offered to injured government employees who are receiving Work Cover through Comcare, as there are “provisions under the Act that allow for the treatments outlined to be compensated, either as part of medical treatment for a workplace injury, or as part of a rehabilitation program”, a spokesperson confirmed.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz has flagged a crackdown, and legislation for limited reform of the $1.2 billion Comcare insurance scheme is already before Parliament.

I hope it drills down into the nature of Comcare, which is even more interesting than these unusual bespoke perks, in my view anyway.

As it stands, it allows ‘long tail’ benefits, which means public servants receiving compensation may be eligible to receive those benefits until they reach retirement age.

Translation: some cases can last (and have lasted) for several decades, costing upwards of $2 million for one single person.

Of course, we all hope that the lion’s share of these cases are genuine. But I can’t help but think that a few characters may be having a bit of a free ride at the taxpayers’ expense?

At the very least, hopefully Abetz’s review will put an end to claims like the infamous ‘sex in a motel’ claim – remember, it was the case where a payout for injuries sustained while a bureaucrat had sex while away on a work trip went all the way to the High Court? If you want evidence of an efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars, look no further…

The Meddler

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