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16.6.2 Leaving the place of work during work time


The employment connection is not necessarily broken if a member leaves their place of work for a cigarette or to buy morning tea or other similar reasons during work hours. Generally the member would still be in the course of their employment if this type of brief absence is an accepted practice or has tacit approval by their supervisor.

If a member was required by their supervisor to seek specific authorisation each time they wished to leave the premises during work hours (except for meal breaks – an 'ordinary recess'), then only those times when the member was absent with approval would be considered to be in the course of the employment.

Where there is specific or tacit approval, if the employee goes beyond what is accepted or approved (e.g. going out for a smoking break, but then going shopping), the course of the employment will cease when the terms of the approval are exceeded.

When dealing with claims for injuries outside the workplace during work hours, tacit or specific approval for the absence must exist. Tacit approval means that an employer or supervisor is aware of what is going on and has accepted the practice without necessarily giving formal approval. This was discussed by Glass JA in Thompson v Lewisham (1978):

...a recess which is unauthorised by the employer is inapt for description as an ordinary recess, even though regularly taken. But I would think that proof that a break is regularly taken with the knowledge and connivance of those placed in authority over the worker by his employer, constitutes prima facie evidence of the consent and approval of the latter.