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Injuries suffered ‘in the course of employment’

Purpose

To highlight for employers and claims managers key lessons from Court and Tribunal decisions about interpretation of ‘in the course of employment’. These case lessons should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

Background

An injury can be compensable if it was suffered ‘in the course of employment’.

Case Lessons

Events outside work time

Summary

Lessons

On 26 March 2018 the Tribunal decided that an injury sustained playing netball at an employer-facilitated weekend games was not compensable.

Although the employee’s supervisor encouraged the employee to attend the games, the Tribunal found that the games were not ‘in the course of employment’ because they occurred between two discrete periods of work.

An injury sustained on a non-work day is generally not compensable unless the employee was injured doing something that their employer directed or required them to do. Encouragement alone is not enough to make the injury compensable.

An event outside work time may be covered for compensation purposes if it was officially approved by the employer.

However, the following factors mean an injury suffered at the event is less likely to be covered:

  • it was held away from the employees’ normal place of work;
  • it was open to member of the public;
  • the employee had to take annual leave to attend the event;
  • the employee had to pay for their own transport and accommodation to attend the event.

On 4 June 2018 the Tribunal decided that an injury sustained attending a weekend Christmas party that was organised by a work colleague was not compensable.

Although the employer allowed the use of its time and resources to plan the party, the Tribunal found that the party was not ‘in the course of employment’ because it occurred between two discrete periods of work.

Case Lessons

This information is for: Government sector and Licensees

Document number: SRC401

Last updated: October 2018

Page last updated: 01 Mar 2019