Running at work or working to run ... give us a break
In today's health conscious environment, businesses encourage their staff to have an active and fit lifestyle, both during and outside work hours.
Indeed, many employers fully support workers who go to the gym, go for a run, swim or cycle at some point during the work day.
Inevitably, someone will pick up an injury. And that might require time off work to recover, visits to the doctor or physio, and possibly workers' compensation.
It can be a tricky area to work through. As might be employees working from home who might suffer some sort of injury from their activities.
CCIQ's employer assistance advisor Sarah Winwood examines this common theme and a recent workers' compensation case involving a high-profile Australia.
When employers are wanting to be flexible and are considering allowing employees to work from home, special attention is required to minimise the ‘grey areas’ and risks associated with staff working away from the office or worksite.
A recent case involved ABC television presenter Maryanne Demasi, who lost a claim for workers' compensation following a jogging fall while, what she argued, was 'during an ordinary recess' while working from her Sydney home.
The decision by Stephen Frost, the deputy president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, demonstrates the need for clear processes so these instances can be dealt with in a quick and efficient manner.
Some of the facts taken into consideration in this hearing included what an ‘ordinary recess’ is and whether or not Ms Demasi should have been working from home that day.
It was determined that the 9:30am ‘break’ for a run was not an ordinary recess and was a key factor in determining the unsuccessful outcome for Ms Demasi.
"I must therefore reject the submission made on her behalf, that her run at 9:30 in the morning is 'indistinguishable' from a run at lunchtime, on the basis that the lunchtime run is undertaken 'during an ordinary recess' in the worker's employment, while the run taken on an ad hoc basis during the work day is not," Mr Frost said.
There are other aspects to also consider.
In order to minimise the risks associated with staff working from home, a home workplace inspection should be completed, along with a working from home agreement and a workplace policy to address any grey areas and to confirm processes - in case an incident does occur.
One aspect of a work from home policy should include parameters regarding onsite and offsite breaks: this policy will be influenced by the legislation in your State or Territory.
In addition, the relevant modern award or enterprise bargaining agreement your staff are employed under should stipulate when breaks can be taken which would eliminate the need to determine when an ‘ordinary recess’ is.
When working from home is permitted, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), must ensure that the physical layout of the home working environment is safe and without risks to health, and that these standards are maintained by the worker.
Ms Demasi’s jogging track could not have been taken into consideration, nor would it be reasonable to do so.
If you allow staff to work from home or are considering these working conditions to allow for flexibility, contact the Employer Assistant Team on 1300 731 988 or at email@example.com for assistance with a work from home policy to minimise risk and meet your employer obligations.
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