The purpose of a lunch break at work is to give you some downtime in the day to eat and rest before you move on to finishing the next part of your shift. The last thing you expect to happen is to find yourself in an accident during this time.
Unfortunately, it does happen. It can leave people wondering if they’re still able to make a claim for workers’ compensation given that they’ve clocked out for lunch. Is this right?
Your employer may still owe you a duty of care
The obligations on your employer to take care of your health and safety are often lessened during lunchtime or any other time that you’re not physically working.
Leaving the building and premises during this period means they are likely to say you’re no longer technically at work and will rely upon the “going and coming” rules in denying your claim.
When you’re at lunch or are “off the clock”, therefore, you’re usually considered to be responsible for your own well-being.
There are a number of exceptions that may apply:
- You’re occupying a space provided by your employer. This may be a breakroom or a canteen, for example. If you are injured by something that your employer has failed to properly maintain, you may be eligible to make a claim. This could be slips and trips over ripped carpet or spillages.
- You were asked to run a work-related errand. You may offer, or be asked, to run an errand at lunchtime for the benefit of your employer. It could be something like picking up coffee for the team or buying stationery. As you’re carrying out a task that’s work-related, you may be covered by workers’ compensation laws.
Even if your worker’s compensation claim is initially denied, this is not necessarily the end of the line. You may still be able to pursue benefits with knowledgeable legal assistance.