Most employers are aware that employees who injure themselves at work may be entitled to compensation benefits. But, what if an employee is injured 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. 

Differences Between the States and Territories

In South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria, employers will generally not be legally responsible if an employee is injured on their way to work. In Victoria, employees who receive an injury on their way to or from work are able to apply for compensation under a separate transport accident compensation scheme.

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 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. 

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 in the course of 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. 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 receieve 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 the their serious misconduct, or by breaking a law. However, the laws surrounding when you will need to pay workers compensation differs 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.

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