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Employee safety and employer responsibilities at work functions

While drinks may flow come EOFY or Christmas time, Australian employers are still responsible for their employees’ safety at celebratory social events.

Whether at lunch, cocktails, or golf, an employee who is seriously injured at a work function will typically remain able to claim their Workers Compensation entitlements.

What are my employers’ safety obligations at work events?

Workers in Australia enjoy a general right to a safe workplace, across all states and territories. Put simply, employers must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers during their employment.

Attending a work function or event is an extension of employees’ roles, so the employer’s safety obligations still apply. It doesn't matter whether the event is outside of work hours, or not at the employees’ usual workplace.

Common hazards at work events

Employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent employees from being injured.

Potential causes of injury at work functions include:

  • An accident while participating in an arranged physical activity
  • Allergic reaction to catering
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Dangerous behaviour by event attendees.

Some basic measures employers should take to fulfil their duty are:

  • Selecting a safe venue, with appropriate security, licensing and emergency exits
  • Monitoring employee alcohol consumption where relevant to avoid intoxication
  • Reminding employees of behaviour expectations and workplace codes of conduct
  • Ensuring employees have access to safe transport home.

Injured at a work event – what are my rights?

If you’ve been seriously hurt at a work event, you may be able to claim Workers Compensation for your injuries. Australian employers are required to carry insurance specifically to compensate employees injured at work.

A successful Workers Compensation claim may cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Past loss of income
  • A lump sum statutory payment for permanent impairment.

Your compensation will depend on your specific circumstances — a Workers Compensation lawyer will be able to give you an estimate of your entitlements.

How Shine Lawyers can help with your compensation claim

Shine Lawyers is at the forefront of Workers Compensation law, representing workers since 1976. Our experts can explain your legal rights and entitlements to you in plain English on a free, no obligation basis.

We run all our Workers Compensation claims on a No Win No Fee basis*, so our clients’ financial situation never stops them from pursuing justice.

*Conditions Apply

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: July 14, 2021.

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