PVYW (anonymised by the court for reasons which will become apparent) was employed in the HR department of an Australian government agency, which required her to travel to a country town in New South Wales to conduct budget reviews and provide training. While there, she hooked up with a male friend and took him back to her motel room, where they had sex. During their encounter, a glass light fitting above the bed was (somehow) pulled from its mount. The light fitting fell on PVYW and caused her injuries. She claimed compensation under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 for an injury sustained in the course of her employment.
The employment tribunal rejected the claim: at the time of the injury she was not engaged in acts ‘associated with her employment’ or ‘at the direction or request of her employer’, nor was the injury ‘sufficiently connected’ with her job. Nicholas J of the Australian Federal Court reversed: PVYW was in the motel only because her job required it, and an interlude in an overall period or episode of work was still part of being on the job. Injuries sustained in that kind of interlude are still in the course of employment, unless they involve gross misconduct (which her tryst was not) or self-inflicted injury (which this didn’t seem to be, intentionally anyway). She would have been eligible for compensation if she had been bathing or dressing in her motel room; indeed, ‘if the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced or encouraged her to engage in such an activity’. PVYW’s particular recreational activity while on a work trip was also covered by the compensation scheme: PVYW v Comcare (No 2),  FCA 395.
[Link available here].