Ever wondered what happens if you are injured on a work related trip? Most people would assume that if it happened to you whilst you were actually ‘on the job’ you would be entitled to workers compensation but what about after work; are you still covered? Two recent cases offer an interesting insight into how Courts view the employment relationship.
The first case, heard by the full bench of the Federal Court PVYW v Comcare (No 2) concerned a public servant injured whilst on a work trip. The employee stayed in a motel in a country town where she had to attend a meeting the next day. She met up with a friend and they had sex in the motel room and it was during these “activities” that a glass light fitting came loose and fell on the employee. She lodged a worker’s compensation claim for facial and psychological injuries.
The federal government’s work safety body Comcare rejected her claim and the Administrative appeals tribunal agreed with Comcare’s rejection dismissing the application and finding that the woman was engaged in a “private activity” that was not encouraged or induced by the employer. The employee appealed the decision and a single judge of the Federal Court agreed that her claim was legitimate giving the analogy that if she was injured playing cards in her room she would have been entitled to compensation even if playing cards was not induced or encouraged by the employer.
The full bench of the Federal Court agreed with the single judge that the injury during intercourse was an injury in the course of her employment.
The second case Wheeler v South Australia  found that an employee was not entitled to compensation for injuries sustained whilst away for a work related conference, because at the time he was removed from the employment relationship.
The employee attended an after conference function and then stopped to get a pizza before returning to his motel. At the pizza shop he was assaulted and left unconscious. Initially it was held that he was entitled to compensation as he was intending to return to the motel so the visit to the pizza shop was an “insignificant deviation” not a “social activity” for the purposes of the relevant workers compensation Act.
The Full Court disagreed and found that between the conference and the motel he was not doing anything concerned with his work and the visit to the pizza shop was not incidental to his employment; in other words it was a “private activity” thus no compensation was payable.
So next time you are away for a work related function, it might be worthwhile to order room-service and have a quiet night in; and be extra careful if you decide on a quick game of cards.
Author: John English
This article is general information only and should not be relied on without obtaining further specific information.