Decided to work from home? Here’s what you need to know

It was recently reported that (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics) almost 10 per cent of Aussie workers – 1.3 million people changed jobs in the last year.

Couple this with the unemployment rate dropping to a 50-year-low, and you can conclude that the employment market in Australia at the moment is tight!

While we know that salary remains important for workers, flexibility – including the ability to work from home – is up there too. Increasingly, it appears that the two are not mutually exclusive, and ‘WFH’ is not just a phenomenon limited to the pandemic.

Given that work from home arrangements are becoming less ‘the exception’ and more ‘the rule’, this blog explores your rights if you’re based in NSW and are injured while working at home.

First things first

If you’ve been injured or become ill at work you may be entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation to cover lost wages, medical and rehabilitation costs, retraining expenses or a lump sum payment for permanent injuries. This is the case even if you’re working from home.

There have been a lot of changes to arrangements in NSW for seeking workers’ compensation in recent years. Workers’ compensation laws and entitlements are already a little hard to keep up with because they vary between states and territories and may be known as WorkCover, CTP or WorkSafe. Compensation and benefits can vary greatly depending on your injury and on the law you’re covered by.

To have a successful workers’ compensation claim in NSW:

  • your injury needs to arise out of the course of your employment, and
  • your employment needs to be a substantial contributing factor to your injury
 

Is my home a ‘place of employment’ for the purposes of NSW workers’ compensation?

The question of whether the home falls within the ‘place of employment’ definition has not yet been considered. However, it is already established that a worker’s course of employment can extend beyond a worker’s normal hours and normal place of work. NSW workers’ compensation legislation includes provisions relating to injuries which happen during ‘ordinary recesses’, breaks or an authorised absence from work duties. If you attends your place of employment, or are temporarily absent from your place of employment and get injured, then compensation is payable.

You should be aware that compensation is not payable if you were subjecting themselves to an abnormal risk of injury. 

Read more here: Been injured in NSW and wondering what ‘work injury damages’ are?

Can you give me an example?

I hurt my back hanging out the washing! Do I have a claim?

Short answer: You most likely do not have a claim. We know it’s hard to ignore those chores piling up when you’re working from home. After all, it’s right there in front of you! However, it would be unlikely that this would be considered an authorised absence. You’d need to show that this ordinary recess was taken for the purposes of ‘refreshment and relaxation’. It would be highly unlikely that hanging washing would fall under this purpose (however cathartic it may be to get it done!).

I was working late and I hurt my neck. Do I have a claim?

Short answer: You most likely have a claim. You’ll need to establish that your injury happened during the course of employment. If you have an agreement with your employer that you can do work outside your usual hours, you’ll be able to establish that the injury occurred in the course of employment. It is generally accepted that the course of employment can extend beyond the worker’s normal hours if the worker was engaged in work-related duties.

I’ve been injured while working from home but I’m still not sure if I should make a claim. Help?

Workers’ compensation claims relating to injuries sustained while working at home will likely start emerging. If you’ve been injured at work or while working from home and you’re unsure if the circumstances of your injury will be covered by worker’s compensation, you should obtain high quality legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity – as you would if you were injured in your employer’s workplace.

Don’t delay – seek advice now

Clearly, the workers’ compensation system can be complex, which is why it helps to seek quality legal advice as soon as possible. At Littles, we are experts in workplace injuries, and can help manage the process to ensure that you receive all appropriate entitlements and support. With Littles on your side, we can ensure that you get the fair treatment you deserve.

If your workers’ compensation claim has been rejected, or you would like to understand how to claim benefits to support you and your family while you are injured or ill, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

IMPORTANT: There are strict time limits for making and disputing a claim, so take advantage of our FREE initial consultation and get in touch. You have nothing to lose by speaking to one of our compensation law experts. The sooner we determine your eligibility to make or appeal a claim, the sooner we can help you to obtain or continue getting funding from the insurer so your rehabilitation can proceed smoothly.

Free advice and no upfront fees

Not only do we offer a FREE initial consultation we handle most insurance claims on a no win, no fee basis.

The Head of our NSW team, Jessica Cheung, is an expert in NSW workers’ compensation claims. If you think you might have a claim, reach out to Jessica and her team for high quality legal advice.

Please note that this information is intended to provide general guidance only. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your individual circumstances. For further information, please contact Littles.

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