For many Australian states until recently, injury sustained by employees traveling to and from their workplace was covered by the various state workers compensation schemes. However the recent ‘harmonisation’ of the workers compensation schemes for all but two states has seen changes to the coverage provided under these state legislated Insurance schemes.
Where some states have previously has this event included in their cover, they now have significantly reduced cover for employees traveling to and from their workplace or do not have cover at all.
WHAT IS JOURNEY COVER?
Journey Cover insurance has been available for some time and is widely accepted in some states, like WA, as a ’top up’ insurance cover that offers piece of mind to both employees and employers
This type of policy provides compensation, usually a nominated weekly amount for up to 104 weeks, when an injury occurs to an employee whilst they are engaged in direct travel to or from their home and their place of employment.
The policy has an aggregate limit of 104 Weeks and an excess or elimination period of 7 Days.
WHO NEEDS JOURNEY COVER?
The harmonisation of Workers Compensation insurance came into effect in July, 2012.
States that have been affected by these changes, or have never had cover for
employees whilst traveling to and from their workplace are:
NSW SA TAS
VIC WA NT (but only if a motor vehicle is involved)
It is expected that QLD and ACT will follow suit to complete the ‘harmonisation’ in the very near future. Many employees and employers are now faced with the uncertainty of whether
a) only granted in very limited and specific circumstances or,
b) removed entirely.
It is a common misconception of employers that if an event or circumstance is not covered by workers compensation, then they do not carry a liability for the event. This is not necessarily correct. While cover may not be provided by a WorkCover or workers compensation policy, as an employer you may still have a responsibility and legal liability to your employee whilst they are traveling to and from their workplace, particularly if they perform work related activities / responsibilities during this journey. I.e.: collecting the mail, or picking up the milk for the office etc.
It is also worth noting that injuries that occur during travel to and from a workplace are not covered under a Public Liability policy.
Journey cover is not expensive.
Many employees are becoming aware of these new changes to the workers compensation scheme insurances in various states and employers who are not willing to offer peace of mind, by ensuring that additional / guaranteed coverage for their employees is in place, may soon find that this impacts on the attractiveness of the organisation to potential new, and current employees.
Comment on changes to NSW legislation, by Sarah Perkins, Special Council for Holman Webb Lawyers Brisbane. To contact Sarah, please call:
(07) 3235 0136 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent changes to the provisions of the NSW WorkCover legislation relating to journey claims have produced uncertainty. The legislation now requires that there must be a ‘real and substantial connection” between the journey and the employment. Legislative guidance given in jurisdictions with similar provisions such as South Australia is absent from the NSW legislation. Until Workers’ Compensation provides judicial guidance the application of the amendment will be unknown. Whatever guidance is ultimately given most cases will depend on their particular facts.
Accordingly, it will be prudent for some employers to consider taking out insurance to cover workers for travel to and from work. This is particularly so in situations such as rural workers who travel significant distances and will welcome the assurance that regardless of recent changes to WorkCover they will be taken care of in the event of an injury suffered in the course of that travel.