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WorkCover Claims when Working from Home

With the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), many of us are now working from home. This presents many difficulties; one of which might be “what happens if you injure yourself whilst working from home”?

Are you covered for WorkCover entitlements if you hurt yourself away from your usual workplace?  To answer this, the relevant test is whether the injury arose “out of” or in the “course of” employment.

Article Summary Points:

Did the injury arise out of employment?

This part of the test requires us to ask whether something about the nature of the employment caused the injury.

For example, have specific work tasks or equipment used caused the injury?  There is usually little dispute about these types of injuries.

An example of how an injury at home might arise out of your employment could be if your employer has provided you with equipment to use at home and you hurt yourself using this equipment whilst working.

However, if you use your work provided equipment to complete a personal task after work hours without authorisation from your employer and injure yourself in the process, this injury may not arise out of your employment.  ^

Did the injury arise in the course of employment?

Injuries that are sustained in the course of employment are not always as obvious as those that arise out of employment. This part of the test includes injuries that are sustained whilst working or doing something that is incidental to your work, but don’t have to necessarily be caused by the nature of the employment.

For example, if you usually work from an office and on your lunch break you fall on an uneven footpath whilst walking down the street to buy yourself a sandwich, you would be considered to injure yourself in the course of your employment.

Arguably then, if you stop for a lunch break at home and injure yourself in your kitchen whilst preparing your lunch, your injury could be considered to occur in the course of your employment.

It could become less clear if you hurt yourself completing a more personal task during a regular break from work.

For example, if you take an extended break and put a load of laundry on or start cooking dinner, or if you play with your kids in the backyard and hurt yourself during these activities. In these circumstances, it could be argued that you have interrupted your usual course of employment.  ^

What compensation and benefits am I entitled to if I injure myself whilst working from home?

If you do injure yourself working from home and your injury is accepted to have arisen “out of” or in “the course” of your employment, you may be entitled to WorkCover benefits including:

Depending on the severity and cause of your injury, you may also be entitled to common law damages. Common law damages can include lump sum compensation for lost earnings and pain and suffering in circumstances where your employer or another party was negligent for your injuries.

There are important time limits that apply to WorkCover claims and therefore it is important that you obtain legal advice if you think you might be eligible.  ^

This article was written by Rebecca Maplesden and first published on the Polaris Lawyers’ website on the 4th May 2020.

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This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.