Written by Sean Landis
CONTENT WARNING: DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE, GENDERED VIOLENCE
As offices in NSW shut down again in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, many of us are finding ourselves once again working from home.
Dining table workstations, children appearing in the background of zoom conferences, and the sudden realisation that most of our houses were not designed to have everyone home at the same time, are not the only challenges we have had to face.
For some, working in a pandemic has brought other troubles. Neck and back pain from improperly set up workstations, falls due to an unsafe home work environment, and mental trauma from a lack of support in the transition to working from home.
Whilst these issues do not resemble your typical Workers Compensation Claim, if they have happened to you, you still might be entitled to financial assistance in NSW.
If you can prove that your injury was obtained in the course of employment, then you may be able to gain compensation despite working from home. The Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) s 9(2) expressly includes injuries obtained “away from the worker’s place of employment” in its categorisation of situations where one can receive compensation.
In 2010, whilst working from home, Michel Carroll was murdered by her de facto and business partner Steven Hill. The death was deemed by the NSW Supreme Court to have arisen in the course of her employment and her children were successful in claiming death benefits under The Workers Compensation Act. The fact that she was performing work duties at the time of her death, her house contained work files, and Mr Hill’s motivation was related to Ms Carroll’s performance of her work duties, were all factors that led to this ruling. This important ruling was delivered in early 2020 and offers insight into the evolving arena of Workplace Compensation. [Workers’ Compensation Nominal Insurer v. Hill  NSW CA54]
In Queensland, under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995, Dale Hargreaves was able to gain compensation for two injuries obtained falling down the stairs. Once on the way to her kitchen for some cough syrup, and once on her way to lock the front door at the instruction of her imployer. The law is still developing on this subject [Hargreaves v Telstra Corporation Limited  AATA 417]
As the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 reshape the way we think about offices, and working from home remains a very real reality, this will only increase in relevance.
If you have sustained a serious injury whilst working from home, get in touch with a lawyer who can assess the viability of your claim. There is a chance that you may be able to seek compensation to assist you in your recovery.
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