Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Can You Claim Workers Compensation While Working From Home?

In March 2020, the NSW Court of Appeals ordered the employer of a murdered employee working from home to award workers compensation to the latter’s dependents. Legal experts believe that the decision, delivered amid Australia’s lockdown, was significant due to people shifting to remote work to curtail the spread of COVID. The case showed that, as long as it’s a work-related injury, an employee is eligible for workers compensation even when not working in the office. 

But as it turns out, such a requirement has been around for decades. You have a piece of legislation to thank: Act 70, officially known as the Workers Compensation Act of 1987.

Before delving deep into this legal rabbit hole, keep in mind that this article contains general information and doesn’t constitute legal advice. If you encounter a similar situation, it pays to enlist the aid of legal professionals such as Law Partners or any law office. 

Employment as a contributing factor

Created to succeed the much older but similarly-named Act of 1926, the Workers Compensation Act of 1987 is the region’s primary legislation on benefits for employees injured while working. The Act is divided into eight parts (originally 11, but three parts have since been repealed), but much of this piece will focus on Part 2, specifically Sections 9A and 11A.

Section 9A

“No compensation payable unless employment substantial contributing factor to injury”

Despite the legalese (and the apparent lack of verbs), this portion of the Act is crystal clear. To qualify for workers compensation, the injury must’ve been inflicted  on the employee at work. If they have an existing condition or “disease injury” that worsened, there should be evidence that working made it so.

Under Subsection 2, the Act provides several factors that can help determine whether or not an injury stemmed from work. While it only specifies six factors, the Act states that it isn’t limited to the following:

  • Where and when the injury occurred
  • What the employee’s work entailed
  • How long has the employee been with the company
  • How likely the injury would’ve happened if the employee wasn’t working at the time
  • How healthy the employee was before the injury took place
  • How the employee lives their life when not at work

Section 11A

“No compensation for psychological injury caused by reasonable actions of employer”

Legal experts state that work-related physical injuries are relatively easy to prove, but work-related psychological injuries are an entirely different story. Subsection 1 makes it clear that any psychological injury caused by reasonable actions made by the employer (e.g., dismissal, demotion, or retrenchment) can’t qualify for workers compensation. 

However, Subsection 4 clarifies that Section 11A doesn’t apply to physical injuries that stem from psychological ones. The psychological disorder must not only affect the nervous system to meet this requirement.

Subsection 7 details the requirements for claiming workers compensation for workers who are unable to work due to psychological injury. The claimant has to submit a medical certificate compliant with Section 65 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act of 1998.

In addition, the medical certificate must use “accepted medical terminology” to describe the claimant’s condition. One that uses terms like “stress” or “stress condition” won’t hold up well before the claims commission.

Is home a workplace?

Until COVID rolled in, the modern labour scene didn’t think much about whether or not one’s humble abode counts as a workplace. With three out of ten work tasks in the region still being performed remotely (per the NSW Productivity Commission’s report), policymakers began to take a more serious look at the matter.

Fortunately, legal experts didn’t have to look far for an answer. Embedded in the Act is Section 11 (not to be confused with Section 11A), which details recess claims. Scenarios that qualify for workers compensation under this section include:

  • Absent from the office, whether ordinary recess or the absence is duly authorised
  • Not subject to any abnormal risk of injury during the time of absence
  • Suffers a qualifying injury during the time of absence

Many legal professionals cite Section 11 as an eligible defence for work-from-home claimants. For instance, someone with back problems may have taken a break from work to do chores when they suffered an injury. Nevertheless, any scenario requires an in-depth review of the facts for a claim to be legitimate.


It’s unlikely that remote work setups will disappear anytime soon. Due in no small part to this 35-year-old legislation, work-from-home arrangements can be guaranteed fair compensation in case of accidents. Working with a legal professional can increase one’s chances of getting said benefits.