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Most employers are aware that employees who injure themselves at work may be able to claim compensation benefits. But what if an employee receives an injury on their way to work? Are you responsible for paying workers’ compensation? This article explains whether you are responsible if your employee receives an injury on their way to work. 

What is Workers’ Compensation?

If one of your employees has been injured in the workplace, you should immediately take action. Firstly, this involves helping them with any necessary first aid or medical treatment. You should also document the extent of the injury as well as what happened to cause it. Then, you should look into whether or not you will need to pay workers’ compensation. This is an amount you will have to pay to help your employee recover from their injury. This will usually involve reimbursing medical fees and a lump sum payment to compensate for loss of work. Ideally, this will help them get better and make a successful return to work.

Differences Between the States and Territories

No Compensation for Injured Employees

There are localised differences on whether or not you are responsible for an employee who receives an injury on their way to work. In South AustraliaTasmaniaWestern Australia and Victoria, employers will generally not be legally responsible. However, in Victoria, employees who receive an injury on their way to or from work can apply for compensation under a separate transport accident compensation scheme.

Possible Compensation for Injured Employees

However, the situation is slightly more complicated in New South Wales. Generally, you will not need to pay compensation for any injuries on a journey to or from work. This is unless there is a connection between their employment and the accident which caused the injury.

For example, this connection might be if your employee was:

  • directed to pick up work mail on the way to work; 
  • directed to travel to a training course somewhere other than their typical workplace;
  • travelling to meet a client; or
  • involved in an accident that was caused by fatigue after completing a double shift. 

Likely Compensation for Injured Employees

In the Northern Territory and the ACT, you will generally be legally responsible for your employees on their way to and from work.

Similarly, in Queensland, employers can be legally responsible for their employees while they travel to and from work. There are, however, several exemptions.

For example, in Queensland, an employee will not receive any workers compensation for injuries if they broke a road rule or criminal law while incurring the injury.

You will not be responsible for paying compensation if: 

  • the injury occurred too long before the employees’ work journey; or
  • your employee had substantially deviated from their route to work.

Journeys for Work Purposes 

Often, employees not only travel to and from work but also during the workday. Therefore, if your employee injures themself during the workday, you may be legally responsible. This means that you may need to pay worker’s compensation.

In most states and territories, what may constitute a work journey is relatively broad. 

For example, it could include injuries incurred on journeys: 

  • during lunch breaks;
  • on the way to a training conference; 
  • to receive a work certificate; or
  • to client meetings.

Key Takeaways 

In most of Australia, it is unlikely that you will be responsible for paying workers’ compensation if your employees receive an injury on their way to work. It is even more unlikely if your employee is injured as a result of their serious misconduct or by breaking the law. However, the laws surrounding needing to pay workers’ compensation differ between each state and territory. Either way, you must ensure that you have the appropriate level of cover and insurance so that you are adequately protected if any workers compensation claims arise. If you have any questions about your employment requirements, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to pay workers’ compensation if an employee is injured on the way to work in NSW?

In NSW, you typically will not need to pay compensation for any injuries sustained on the way to work. However, you may be responsible if there is a connection between their employment and the accident which caused the injury. For example, if they are on their way to meet a client or have been directed to pick up a package on the way to work.

Do I need to pay workers’ compensation if an employee is injured on the way to work in Victoria?

No, employers in Victoria will generally not be legally responsible if an employee is injured on their way to work.

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