Before you celebrate EOFY….
At common law, a non-delegable duty of care is owed by an employer to their employee.
An employee (“worker”) can seek damages for an injury sustained by them in the course of their employment, where that worker can establish that the employer was negligent or in breach of a term of the worker’s contract, and such negligence or breach caused the worker’s injury.
Initially, damages (or compensation) is paid to the worker by WorkCover Queensland or a self-insurer if applicable.
Can I claim damages if I have been injured at a work function?
This duty of care does not cease outside of the worker’s typical ‘workplace’ however. It may also extend to an event that is organised and paid for by the employer, like staff parties or functions, even although the attendance of a worker is voluntary. If the function is organised and paid for by the employer, the duty of care to workers remains the same as it would if they were at work.
Depending on the circumstances, and remembering that each case is different, in addition to injuries to workers, the employer could also be liable for inappropriate behaviour including discrimination, workplace harrassment/bullying or sexual harassment.
Of important note though, the ‘injury’ must occur during the course of your employment. If you have left the work function to continue to celebrate elsewhere, or if the function is deemed to be over, you are generally not able to make a claim for benefits.
What damages can I claim?
If you have been injured outside of the workplace but in the course of your employment, you may be able to claim for statutory benefits (like medical expenses or loss of income).
Likewise, if you are an employer and would like to know more about your obligations and duties and how they extend to outside of the workplace we can give you some tips on putting measures and processes in place to minimise harm to your workers and your business.