Working from Home: Australian Court Grants Accident Compensation


All those who work from home will welcome the judgement of the Australian Court in the case of Hargreaves. This will surely interest many employees who work in IT industry who work from home.

The issue in Hargreaves case was whether an accident while working from home can entitle an employee to compensation. On 21 August 2006 Ms Hargreaves fell down the stairs at home. She injured her left shoulder. On 9 October 2006 she again fell down the stairs and again injured her shoulder, this time requiring surgery. She later developed depression and anxiety which she claimed was related to the physical injuries and her inability to work. Telstra denied liability for the injuries on the basis that the falls did not arise out of, or were not in the course of, her employment.

Ms Hargreaves was instructed by Telstra, her employees, to lock the front door of her home while working. It was her claim that she fell down while going to lock the front door after her son left for school. She suffered psychiatric ailment to which the injury contributed.

The Tribunal noted that for an injury to have arisen out of employment, it did not necessarily have to occur at work. Hargreaves and Telstra Corporation Limited [2011] AATA 417 (17 June 2011)

The decision effectively blurs the distinction between workplace and home. It may also give rise to more claims.

I have not heard any similar case decided in India. I wonder what the decision would have been in our courts.

Vivek