Your lunch break at work should be a time for you to have something to eat and rest before the afternoon shift begins. The last thing you expect is to find yourself in an accident but it does happen.
What happens if you’re injured at work but you’ve clocked out to take your lunch break? Are you still entitled to make a claim for worker’s compensation? While insurers are likely to deny a claim, this isn’t necessarily always right.
Does your employer have a duty of care for you at lunch?
The obligations on your employer to take care of your health and safety are often lessened during lunchtime. If you decide to leave the building and premises, they are likely to say you’re no longer technically at work. Therefore, when you’re at lunch or are “off the clock”, you’re usually considered to be responsible for your own well-being.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule that may apply:
- You’re sitting in a place provided by your employer. I.e. you choose to sit and eat your lunch in a breakroom or canteen and are injured as a result of something they have failed to maintain. Commonly this could be slips and trips over ripped carpet or spillages.
- You were asked to run an errand. There are times an employee will do a job for their employer during a lunch break. It could be something like picking up coffee for the team or buying stationery. In these circumstances, you’re carrying out a work-related task and may be entitled to compensation if you’re injured during it.
Even if an insurer initially denies your worker’s compensation claim due to being at lunch, this isn’t the end of the line. You may still be able to claim with the legal assistance of an expert in the field.