When an HR professional from an Australian government agency met up with a male friend in a country motel while overnighting before a departmental meeting, it’s pretty certain that work was the last thing on her mind.
However, after a light fitting was pulled or bumped from a wall during a strenuous bout of physical activity, she turned to her employer for compensation for the ensuing injuries, arguing that she was on a work related trip at the time. Although her initial claim was rebuffed by the compensation provider, on appeal to the courts, the injured 30something found a judge who was sympathetic to how she received her injuries.
The judge in the case compared her activities to calmer pastimes, saying the woman was travellig for her job and was covered for however she spent her time.
"If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would have been entitled to compensation, even though it could not be said that her employer induced or encouraged her to engage in such an activity," Justice John Nicholas said.
"In the absence of any misconduct or an intentionally self-inflicted injury, the fact that the applicant was engaged in sexual activity rather than some other lawful recreational activity does not lead to any different result."
The woman, in her late 30s, suffered injuries to her nose, mouth and a tooth after a light fitting hit her head while “going hard”, her partner said.
“I do not know if we bumped the light or it just fell off,” he said. “I think she was on her back when it happened but I was not paying attention because we were rolling around.”
But Justice Nicholas said the appeals tribunal was wrong in saying that the woman had to prove her injury had been caused by an activity that had been "implied" or "encouraged" by her employer.
She’s not the only one to require leave after a too strenuous night – a 2009 report indicated 18 per cent of Brits had injured themselves during a night of passion, and five per cent had taken time off work as a result.