3 Crazy Cases Raised in Employment Law
Policies often pre-empt potential workplace issues and need to be produced in advance rather than after an issue has occurred. These issues can take many forms such as managing a difficult employee, health and safety negligence, and more.
Below are some outrageous cases that were raised in employment law that further demonstrate the importance of having the right policies and procedures.
1. Cricket Injury
Benjamin Backhouse, a fly-in-fly-out mine worker, injured himself playing cricket at work.
According to the ABC, Backhouse decided to play cricket after he completed his shift – which was his seventh night shift in a row – to stay awake through the day and re-set his body clock for his upcoming cycle of day shifts. He had also consumed 10 standard drinks by that point.
The South Australian Employment Tribunal concluded that there was sufficient connection to his work – and that the employee had exercised his duty by managing his sleep cycle to reduce the risk of injury from fatigue whilst at work. In a decision that may come as a surprise to employers, the SA Employment Tribunal awarded Backhouse damages as compensation for his injury.
2. A Torrid Workplace Affair
A High Court heard the appeal case involving a public servant who was injured while engaging in intercourse during a work trip.
The woman — name withheld — was having sexual intercourse with a man in a motel room her employer had booked for her.
During the act, “a light hit her in the face injuring her nose, mouth and a tooth and also causing a psychiatric adjustment disorder”, according to an ABC report, and she had to be taken to the hospital.
The Federal Court initially ruled in favour of the employee, saying that if the woman had been injured playing cards in her motel room, she would get compensation – and that this incident was no different.
After an appeal to the High Court, the case of the employer and its insurer was accepted. They argued that they weren’t liable as the incident had happened after hours.
3. Ladder Training
A worker at a vet claimed that her fall from a stepladder was caused by her employer not taking enough steps in its duty of care. Ms Cowie alleged that no safe use training or risk assessment was carried out, nor was an alternative method of storage offered to her.
The ACT Supreme Court found that using a stepladder was a relatively simple task applied on a daily basis which lessened the requirement for special training. They concluded that a reasonable employer would not have adopted an alternative method of storage, and also added that the elimination of all risks is not possible.
WHS can get tricky for businesses. Sometimes, employees claim spurious things, but if you have a strong WHS culture, including enforceable procedures and policies, you may be able to avoid unwarranted trips to courts.
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