On 19 April 2012 the Federal Court of Australia held that the
applicant, who was injured when hit by a falling light fitting
while she was having sex in a motel room, had suffered injuries
'in the course of her employment'. It seems fair to say
that the case represents the high water mark for injuries suffered
'in the course of your employment' under workers
The applicant was a Commonwealth Government agency employee who
was required to travel to a New South Wales country town for work
in November 2007. A motel room was booked for the applicant by her
employer as she was away from her usual place of work. While the
applicant was visiting the town, she arranged to meet a male friend
for dinner. After dinner the applicant and her male friend
retreated back to the motel room. According to the applicant, while
she was having sex, a glass light fitting located above the bed was
pulled from its mount and subsequently hit her causing injuries to
both her nose and mouth.
The Court was required to consider whether the applicant's
injuries were suffered "in the course of her employment"
under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
(Cth). It was held that they were.
Nicholas J said that it was not necessary for the applicant to
show that the particular activity which led to the injury was one
that had been expressly or impliedly induced or encouraged by her
employer. His Honour gave the example of playing cards. He said
that if the applicant had been injured while playing a game of
cards in her motel room then she would have been entitled to
compensation, even though it could not be said that her employer
induced or encouraged her to engage in that activity. A game of
patience might have been a safer option.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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