‘Game-changer’ court ruling to impact compo claims
A recent ruling in the Industrial Court of Queensland is set to significantly impact compensation claims going forward, according to a local law firm.
Gold Coast law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers has responded to last week’s ruling in the Industrial Court of Queensland which found that if a worker is required to be at work before their official start time and are injured even prior to commencing their duties, they are deemed eligible for workers’ compensation.
The matter concerned McDonald’s staff member Mandep Sarkaria, who fell and broke her leg after climbing on to the chain restaurant’s rooftop for a cigarette before her shift began.
WorkCover originally rejected Ms Sarkaria’s compensation claim and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission vice president Dianne Linnane later dismissed her appeal, however, she then successfully appealed to the Industrial Court of Queensland, which ordered that her compensation application be accepted.
Ms Sarkaria won her legal battle for the right to worker’s compensation despite the incident occurring before her start time, with the judge noting that because she was required to arrive for work 10 minutes before her shift began, “she was deemed to be at work, but on a recess and thus entitled to compensation for an injury during that period”.
Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers director Bruce Simmonds described the decision as a game-changer, noting that previously if an employee was injured before their official start time they did not qualify for workers compensation.
“It’s significant that Justice Martin said if employees were required to attend work at a set time before their shift started, there was a ‘recess’ between that and commencement of the work period," Mr Simmonds explained.
“So although there was no customer interaction or service from the time they arrived until their shift commenced, they had, in the Judge’s view, commenced work.
“The wider implications of this mean if a worker is required to be at work before an official start time, or stay at work for a set time after the end of their shift, they are entitled to lodge a claim for any injury suffered before or after their official work shift.”