Compensation Awarded for Employee’s Injuries on Day Off

The Queensland Industrial Relations Court has awarded a flight attendant with a major airline compensation for injuries he sustained on his day off.

The employee was injured in a traffic accident while setting off on his motorbike from his Gold Coast home to spend the night in Brisbane, the day before he was due to fly to Sydney to renew his US visa, in March 2010.

He collided with a car while making a right-hand turn, dislocating his hip and suffering leg and wrist fractures.

Last month, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission ruled that he suffered his injuries in the course of his employment, even though it was his day off.

The airline’s insurer rejected his claim for worker’s compensation.

The Commission’s Industrial Court ultimately found the flight attendant’s employment was a “significant contributing factor” to his injuries and he was entitled to compensation.

Court president David Hall noted in his decision that it was a condition of the worker’s employment as a long-haul flight attendant that he hold a current passport and visa authorising entry into the US, and that the airline had paid for the employee to take his 5am flight to Sydney to visit the US consulate.

“It was the nature and terms of his employment together with decisions and initiatives of [the airline] which caused [the employee] to be riding his motorbike where and when he was injured,” Mr Hall said.

The court rejected the airline’s argument that the employee was spending the night with a Brisbane friend before the light for social reasons.

The worker said he was unable to travel by train in time to meet his flight and felt it was unsafe to make an early morning motorcycle journey to Brisbane in the dark.

The flight attendant’s lawyer, Greg Black of Turner Freeman said the decision could affect could other Queensland flight attendants as well as “fly-in, fly-out” workers whose employers require them to travel in their own time to renew work-related licences or visas or meet job conditions.

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