INSIGHT

Do employers need to start telling their employees to limber up before heading home?

By Lawrence Mai
Employment & Safety

In brief 3 min read

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (the Tribunal) has decided that a knee injury sustained by an employee when he was 'lightly jogging' to the staff bus after his shift had arisen out of his employment.1

How does it affect you?

  • An employer does not need to control the area where an employee is injured for that injury to arise out of the employee's employment. It may be enough that the employer encourages or authorises the employee to use that area.
  • An injury does not need to occur during working hours for it to be connected to the employment. It can occur within a reasonable extension in time and space beyond the end of an employee's shift.

Background

Mr Mustica was employed by the Department of Agriculture and his place of work was the Melbourne International Airport. A bus service was provided to staff who worked at the airport to transport them from the terminal precinct to the secure staff car park. Mr Mustica lodged a workers' compensation claim after suffering a meniscal tear to his right knee while jogging to the staff bus after the end of a shift. The claim was declined on the basis that the injury did not arise 'out of or in the course of' his employment. Mr Mustica brought this decision to the Tribunal for review.

The decision – a sufficient connection between the injury and the employment

The Tribunal needed to decide whether Mr Mustica's injury:

  • arose out of, or in the course of, his employment; and
  • occurred within the boundaries of his workplace or on his journey home.

The Tribunal decided there was a sufficient connection between the injury and the employment to say that it arose 'out of' Mr Mustica's employment. While he was not required to use the staff bus or the secure staff car park, the Department had given Mr Mustica an application form so that he could obtain access to the car park and this form had been endorsed by his supervisor. Therefore, his actions were authorised and encouraged by the Department.

If Mr Mustica had done something for a private purpose before sustaining the injury, such as stopping off at the airport bar after his shift, the injury may not have been sufficiently connected to his employment.

Although the injury occurred after the shift had finished, it occurred within a reasonable extension in time and space of the boundaries of Mr Mustica's workplace. This extension would have ceased, and Mr Mustica would have 'left work' only once he left the secure staff car park and entered a publicly accessible road.

The Tribunal concluded Mr Mustica's injury arose out of his employment and was within the reasonable boundaries of his workplace, so he was awarded workers' compensation.

Footnotes

  1. Mustica and Comcare (Compensation) [2019] AATA 5426 (17 December 2019).