Members left vulnerable after Commission decision
A recent Queensland Industrial Relations Commission decision has placed a serious question mark over whether members should be participating in excursions, camps, trips and outdoor education.
The Commission has held that an injury sustained by a teacher on a school excursion did not arise out of or in the course of the teacher’s employment.
In this case, due to unforeseen weather conditions the teacher was participating in an activity on a school excursion overseas which was not approved by the employer beforehand.
However, the Commission’s decision has important ramifications for a broad range of activities which are not limited to excursions.
This QIRC decision means members may not be covered by workers’ compensation if they are injured whilst undertaking activities not specifically identified in documents such as position descriptions, school policies, risk assessments or Activity Intention Sheets.
That is, if you decide on your own volition to: go canoeing on camp; role model how to abseil to encourage students; line up for the annual ‘Teacher-Student Basketball’ game; or have a quick game of handball when doing playground duty and you sustain an injury, there is no guarantee that you will be covered by workers’ compensation.
If participation in an activity is not the result of a clear requirement or direction from your employer that it is part of your role, then members are vulnerable.
In the event of an injury arising out of an activity undertaken by you without a clear employer direction or requirement to do so as part of your role, members may have to fund their own rehabilitation costs and any other expenses associated with rehabilitation.
This may include loss of income while they rehabilitate from their injury.
Appeal in process
Our union is appealing the Commission’s Decision in the Industrial Court of Queensland but until – and unless – the decision is overturned; members must exercise caution in whether and/or how they decide to participate in activities.
Our members often cite it is vital to build rapport and morale with their students and this can mean teachers and school officers join in games and activities with students – not only on excursions – but within the course of a normal school day.
The potential ramifications of casual participation in such activities now need to be reconsidered.
Without clear, written directions from employers, school employees are vulnerable.
All members can access a resource pack which includes a fact sheet, member advisory and checklist for camps and excursions, by contacting our union.
These detail the background and outline of the case in question, implications of the decision and advice for members planning and participating in camps and excursions and other activities with students.
If you are in doubt about any aspect of an excursion or camp, please contact our union via FREECALL 1800 177 937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org