Workers in New South Wales No Longer Covered for Injuries Sustained on a Journey to or from Work.

Widespread changes were made to workers compensation law in New South Wales in June 2012. One of the many changes has been the virtual abolition of an entitlement to workers compensation benefits where a worker is injured on their way to or from work.

The previous law was that a worker was entitled to workers compensation if an injury was sustained from the time that the worker left the boundary of their own home until the worker reached the workplace unless there was an interruption in the journey which gave rise to a material increase in the risk of injury.

As of 19 June 2012 there is no compensation payable on a journey to or from work unless there is a “real and substantial connection between the employment and accident or incident out of which the personal injury arose”. There will doubtless be a considerable amount of litigation in the future as to the meaning of “real and substantial” connection between the employment and the accident.

As an example of the effect of this change to the law, it would seem that if a worker is driving from his or her residence in Bathurst to work in Orange on a cold and damp winter morning and the car being driven by the worker slides out of control on some black ice and that worker sustains significant injuries, perhaps even paraplegia or quadriplegia, that worker will not be covered by way of workers compensation benefits. That is notwithstanding the fact that the sole purpose of the journey being made from Bathurst to Orange is to attend work and earn a living for the worker and his or her family.

It should be noted, however, that these changes to journey claims do not apply to Police officers, paramedics, fire fighters and coal miners.

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