Worker’s Compensation: What is in the Course of Employment?

March 25th, 2014 by

workers-compensation-course-of-employmentIn Ontario, under the Workerplace Safety and Insurance Act, S.O. 1997[1], if an individual sustains an injury from an accident which arises out of and in the course of their employment, they are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Further, there is a rebuttable presumption that when an accident arises out of the individual’s employment, it also occurs in the course of their employment.

There have been a number of interesting decisions abroad regarding whether an individual should be entitled to worker’s compensation. In an article published by the Associated Press[2], the author writes about a recent case in Berlin, Germany involving a teacher. In this case, the teacher successfully brought an action for worker’s compensation for injuries she sustained during a school trip, while dancing on a bench at a beer tent. In a statement made by the court explaining its decision, the court argued that the teacher would risk distancing herself from her students if she refused to dance on the bench, given that this was a “normal and socially appropriate” activity.

In an article by Rod McGuirk[3], he discusses another recent case from Australia, Comcare v PVYW [2013] HCA 41. In this case, a government employee brought an action for worker’s compensation for injuries she sustained on a business trip while she was engaging in intercourse in a motel room. She was initially successful, but lost when the decision was appealed to the High Court. In a statement summarizing the High Court’s ruling[4], the court explained that “[t]he relevant question is: Did the employer induce or encourage the employee to engage in that activity?” The court found the answer to this question to be “No”.

While these cases are not binding on Ontario courts, they pose interesting questions with respect to what can be considered to be “in the course” of an individual’s employment.

For more information on worker’s compensation, please contact Toronto employment lawyer Marty Robinovitch at 416-446-5826.

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