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McDonald''s worker wins compensation for smoking injury

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

McDonald’s worker who climbed onto the roof for a smoke was on an ‘ordinary recess’.

 A recent case before the Industrial Court of Queensland has highlighted the definition of an ‘ordinary recess’ in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act).


The McDonald’s worker was required to attend the restaurant 10 minutes prior to her start time, for the sake of continuity of customer service and to facilitate smooth transition between shifts.


The worker decided to use this 10 minute gap between arriving and starting work to climb onto the roof of the McDonald’s building and have a cigarette. On climbing down, she fell and fractured her ankle.


The worker applied for workers’ compensation under the Act, which was rejected. The worker appealed to the Industrial Court arguing that she was on an ‘ordinary recess’ whilst on the roof and therefore the Act applied to her and compensation ought be given.

To be granted compensation for an injury arising during an ordinary recess, among other things, the worker must be temporarily absent from their place of employment.


The Court decided the circumstances surrounding the worker’s injury entitled her to statutory compensation under the Act for two reasons:


  1. The rooftop was not her place of employment; and
  2. The employer required employees to attend the workplace a set time before their shift starts. This provides employees a “recess” between the time required to attend work and the commencement of the work period.


Ordinarily we see cases where employees are injured during lunch or other breaks. This case was unique in that the injury occurred before the worker began work.


Interestingly, the Court noted that if the worker turned up to work early of her own accord and decided to smoke a cigarette on the roof before starting her shift, the subsequent injury would not have occurred during a recess.


If you have concerns about whether this impacts your business or workers please feel free to contact us.