The case determined whether an employee was deemed to have injured herself in the course of her employment and therefore covered by work cover or whether the injury occurred outside the place and period of actual work and therefore not the responsibility of the employer.


The employee in question was required to visit a regional office with another work colleague to meet other staff and to undertake training. Her employer booked her a hotel room to stay in overnight. During the night, the employee engaged in sexual intercourse with an acquaintance in her hotel room and during the activity, a glass fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount by either the employee or her acquaintance and it struck the employee in her face causing significant damage. The employee suffered physical injuries and a subsequent psychological injury and sought compensation.

In the first instances, the Court stated that the injury occurred in the course of employment and compensation was awarded. Comcare appealed the decision and sought the orders be reversed.

The High Court upheld the appeal which provided that whilst the employer had arranged for the hotel room and required the employee to stay the night, the injury did not arise from an activity in which the employer had induced or encouraged the employee to undertake.

So what can employers learn from this decision?

If you induce or encourage an employee to be at a certain place and undertake a certain activity, any injury sustained may be an injury claimable under workers compensation. With end of year celebrations coming up it is important that employers take note of the activities they encourage their employees to undertake during festivities (i.e. high risk adventure activities) and assess the risks of potential injury.

It is also appropriate that employment agreements deal with important issues restricting employee’s activities (where appropriate) and set out the employer’s policies relating to conduct expected of employees. For example, the employer may have policies which deal with:

  • Alcohol and whether it can be consumed at work or in the course of carrying out their duties;
  • Drugs and the prohibition of using or being under the influence of illegal substances (including the provision of drug testing where appropriate);
  • Vehicles and any limitations on use of company vehicles (i.e. private use);
  • Behaviour and ensuring that employees do not engage in sexual or other workplace harassment (such as bullying).


Tisher Liner FC Law have experience in Employment Law matters and can review your standard employment agreements to ensure that relevant issues are dealt with.