Worker’s Compensation and Journey Accidents – a mixed bag

Worker’s Compensation and Journey Accidents – a mixed bag

February 16, 2017

All state and territory workers compensation schemes provide coverage for employee trips if they are travelling for work purposes, though only some provide coverage for journeys to and from the workplace.

In Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria an employer is generally not liable for an employee if they are injured on their way to or from work. In Victoria, workers who are injured on this journey are able to apply for compensation under a separate transport accident compensation scheme.

In NSW, the situation is a little more complicated. There is no compensation payable on a journey to or from work unless there is a “real and substantial connection between the employment and accident or incident out of which the personal injury arose”.

Basically this means employers will not be liable for when an employee gets injured on the way to work, unless:

  • The employee was directed to pick-up work mail on the way to work;
  • The employee was directed to travel to a training course at a location other than their normal place of work;
  • The employee was travelling directly to meet a client, rather than going to the office first; or
  • The employee had an accident due to fatigue when travelling home after a double shift.

In the Northern Territory and the ACT, employers generally are liable for trips to and from work.  However, when a worker is in their car and still on their own property they cease to be covered by the scheme.

Liability for such journeys also applies in Queensland.  There are, however, a number of exemptions.  For example, a worker will not receive any workers compensation for injuries if they break road or criminal laws when the accident happened and this contravention led to the accident.  Also, if the injury occurs too long before the employees’ work journey (and the employee was driving in the car at the time) or in a substantial geographical deviation from the journey, then an employer will not be liable.

Journey for ‘work purposes’

If a worker injures themselves on an authorised journey for work purposes the employer may be liable.  In most states and territories, the relevant legislation is very broad and can include injuries incurred on journeys during lunch breaks or other breaks.  Employers may even be liable if a worker injures themselves whilst getting a work certificate or whilst training at an external training provider.

In virtually all states, an employer is not liable for the injury if it is the result of serious and wilful misconduct of the worker.


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