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  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.
Very unlikely that such a case in India would have gone in the employee's favour. The court would hold the view that such accidents can happen to any one in the public and not necessarily to the employee in the company. Cases where employees meet with accident on their way to the office premises have not been ruled in favour of the employees. There are such instances.
I think this is a unfair judgement for the organization as the construction and design of employees houses are under no control of the organization. Organizations emphasize on ISO rated buildings while choosing a location for their office, in most MNCs its mandatory.
So the organization should not pay for any damage occuring out of a incident which has the organization has absolutely no control. I think organizations will get a new clause in their Contract of employment stating that "The organization will not be responsible for any accident/incident which may occur at home to an employee during hours, in case the employee is opting to work out of home"