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Perspective

Thrills and spills not all in a day’s work

The Full Federal Court has written the final chapter of the long running saga of the Telstra employee who slipped and injured her hip in 2016 while staying at a hotel during a work conference.

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In Dring v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2021] FCAFC 50 (9 April 2021), the Court rejected the appeal of Ms Dring, upholding the initial decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which found Ms Dring’s evening of personal drinking and socialising before the 2:30am slip had broken the necessary connection with her employment.

Ms Dring’s appeal alleged the AAT had erred in its application of the law and should have found the occurrence of the injury at a place her employer required her to be (the hotel for the conference) was in and of itself sufficient to render the injury as one arising out of or in the course of her employment.

The Full Court rejected this assertion, finding the AAT’s application of the law to be correct. The Full Court emphasised the AAT’s finding of fact regarding the injury (i.e. the socialising broke the connection with employment) was open to it and not infected by an error of law.

However, in finding no error of law, the Full Court was careful to emphasise that a different decision maker in the AAT could have arrived at a different conclusion given the facts of the case were so borderline as to whether Ms Dring’s slip in the hotel lobby had the requisite connection with employment.

Lessons for employers

  • Employers should take caution to clearly delineate between activities for work purposes (such as dinners) and activities not induced or encouraged by them (like after dinner socialising and drinking).
  • No one size fits all approach applies to employees suffering injuries while travelling for work and advice should always be sought when an injury occurs in these circumstances.

Written by Mathew Reiman

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Our team are here to provide the right advice for your business and workforce. If you have a question or require assistance, please contact Andrew Douglas or Kim McLagan.

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