Recent amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) have severely disadvantaged NSW Workers. One such amendment is an injured worker’s right to claim compensation for injuries sustained whilst travelling to and from work.
Under the old scheme, workers were covered for injuries sustained whilst travelling both to, and from their place of employment. The Journey would commence upon leaving one’s premises and cover would continue up until the worker had reached their place of employment, and vice versa. In addition to this, employees were also covered for injuries sustained during meal breaks, known as ‘recess claims’.
Given the confusing nature of the recent workers compensation amendments, it has often been asked “am I still covered for injury sustained whilst on a journey?”
The recent amendment to s.10, the Journey provisions, haven’t on the face of it changed significantly but what the Government has done is made it so that there must be a “real and substantial” connection between the journey and employment. Although there hasn’t been any clear direction as to what the government means by the term “real and substantial”, we are of the opinion that the amendment removes cover for those workers who deviate from their journey. Examples of where a worker would cease to be covered would be stopping off at the shops, either going to or from work; stopping for dinner following work; or catching up with friends, are just some examples of a break in the journey. It should be noted that some deviations have been considered to continue cover for injured workers, and these would include things such as dropping off and picking up kids from school, on your way to and from work. However, it is highly likely that any such instance would be questioned by an Insurer as to whether there is a ‘real and substantial’ connection to employment.
For those who work and study, you are covered for those journeys from work to your educational institution and then home, or back to work whichever it may be.
In summary, it is our interpretation of the amendment that workers are possibly still covered for injuries sustained travelling to and from work, however what we are seeing is an increase in disputed journey claims, as insurers chart the waters of this new and unfamiliar piece of law. You should always ensure that there is no significant deviation in any journey to and from your home to your place of employment, otherwise you may find yourself in the disputed waters of the insurer’s understanding of journey claims.