A recent decision of the District Court of Western Australia provides some positive news for employers facing a workers’ compensation claim for a stress-related injury caused by disciplinary action.

At first instance in Woodside Energy v Kieronski [2016] WADC 144 the arbitrator held that Ms Kieronski was entitled to compensation for a psychiatric condition caused by stress from being stood down pending an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct. Woodside successfully appealed this decision to the District Court.

The case turned on the interpretation and application of an important carve-out that exists in other jurisdictions across Australia.[1] The carve-out places the onus on employees to demonstrate that their psychiatric injury did not result from “reasonable management action”.

In Western Australia, the carve-out is found in the definition of ‘injury’ in section 5(1) when read with section 5(4) of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981. It applies when an employer dismisses, retrenches, demotes, redeploys or disciplines an employee. Provided the disciplinary process is not “unreasonable and harsh”, employers will not be required to compensate employees for stress-related conditions that an employee develops as a result.

A worker who injured herself when she went for a run whilst working from home has had her application for workers compensation dismissed, but only on the basis that the injury did not occur during an ‘ordinary recess’.


In Demasi v Comcare (Compensation) [2016] AATA 644 (26 August 2016), the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) heard that the applicant took a break from her work at 9.45am (on a day when she was working from home) and went for a run.  She tripped on an uneven surface and landed awkwardly, breaking her right hip.  The applicant claimed compensation on the basis that the injury she suffered arose out of or in the course of her employment.  Comcare denied liability.

In the review application, the AAT heard that the applicant ‘often’ worked from home – estimated at approximately 30 per cent of her total work time.

On the day of the injury, the applicant began work at 7:30am and decided to take an early break in order to go for a run.  The injury occurred 30 minutes into the run.  There was evidence from the applicant’s manager that she was aware that the applicant would regularly run during her recess breaks.

In, Ashraf v SNC Lavalin ATP Inc. (“Ashraf”) an Alberta judge upheld a master’s decision to strike the statement of claim of a worker seeking to sue his employer for injuries resulting from workplace harassment. The Statement of Claim of the Plaintiff was struck on the grounds that the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Act bars all

The B.C. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”) in Browne v. British Columbia (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal) considered a petition by 14 temporary farm hands who were injured when a truck they were riding in left the road and rolled down an embankment. Before and after work each day the 14 workers were driven to and