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Labourer who took workers' comp while working ordered to return almost $60,000

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A labourer who knowingly received workers’ compensation payments while working has been ordered to return $58,121 to WorkSafe Victoria and complete 250 hours of community service.

Lee Sharples pleaded guilty at the Frankston Online Magistrates’ Court to one rolled-up charge of fraudulently obtaining weekly financial benefits from the compensation scheme.

He was convicted and placed on a Community Corrections Order for 18 months.

WorkSafe says in a statement that surveillance footage in April last year showed him entering a workplace wearing a uniform.

Its investigation revealed he earned more than $46,000 working at two separate companies between February 2019 and October last year.

The statement says the court heard that during this period, he also received a number of Newstart (now JobSeeker) and JobKeeper payments, at times receiving wages from two jobs, unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation at the same time.

He had injured his shoulder in November 2017 while working as a labourer and required surgery. He lodged a workers’ compensation claim that was accepted the following month.

In 2019, he also successfully lodged a claim for a secondary mental health injury relating to his injured shoulder.

WorkSafe Insurance Business Unit Executive Director Roger Arnold says the government agency is always on the lookout for fraudulent behaviour.

“Workers’ compensation is to support injured workers who cannot work,” Mr Arnold said. “Those who cheat the system for their own gain undermine the entire scheme.

“Most people do the right thing, but WorkSafe won’t hesitate to prosecute those whose behaviour is dishonest.”