In a recent case, a Telstra employee was successful in obtaining compensation for injuries suffered when she fell down the stairs at home (twice) whilst working from home. The case received widespread publicity with most media reporting on the expected wave of similar cases and the need for employers to carry out detailed safety assessments of their employees’ home and work methods. The fact is that this case does not change the law, but illustrates the risks involved with work from home arrangements.


Employers have 2 main areas of legal exposure in this type of case – workers compensation claims and workplace health and safety penalties (quite apart from the practical inconvenience of an employee taking personal leave as a result). This note relates to the workers compensation aspects while a separate AWL Mail will address WHS issues.


The general principle is that an employee who suffers an injury at work is normally entitled to some form of compensation. In Queensland, employers pay compulsory premiums to WorkCover Queensland, a state government authority (some large employers are able to self insure subject to regulation). The compulsory scheme exists to ensure that injured workers are able to obtain at least some payment for work injuries. These premiums provide insurance cover for employers against 2 types of claims by injured employees:

  1. No fault claims for statutory benefits; and
  2. Common law damages claims for negligence.


Negligence claims generally involve greater compensation amounts than statutory benefit claims but the employee must prove that the employer was negligent in a specific act or omission or by failing to provide a safe system of work. There are several points to note:

  1. Employers are not directly responsible for substantive compensation payments (although increased premiums may result);
  2. Most claims are likely to be statutory benefit claims rather than negligence claims;
  3. Given that most work at home is sedentary in nature, the risk of injury and claims should be relatively low;
  4. Any possible risk of an injury and claim needs to be weighed up against the benefits of such arrangements;
  5. Assessments of home work environments should not be significantly more onerous than those already conducted in the workplace.


In short, the risk of injury is a relevant but usually minor factor in considering whether to implement a work from home arrangement. Please let us know if there are any particular queries we can assist with.