News & Features

Banning Planking “Near Impossible”

Tindall Gask Bentley Managing Partner Morry Bailes says introducing a law to stop the “planking” fad is unfeasible.

“Difficult, or near impossible,” Mr Bailes said.

“I think that if you are going to do something silly like a prank, leaving planking aside, you’re probably entitled to do it, I don’t think we can legislate against that type of thing.”

It has been reported that the South Australian government could be exploring ways to legislate against the popular fad, which has at times proven to be dangerous and deadly.

Mr Bailes, who is also Treasurer of Law Society SA, said making planking a criminal offence is unnecessary, even if those involved are becoming a danger to themselves and others.

“There are existing laws that would deal with that, there are criminal laws that say if you endanger other people, it’s an illegal act,” Mr Bailes said.

“But I think if you choose to do something stupid to yourself, then I don’t know that there’s a sanction to prevent that.”

The debate has extended to the workplace, where “plankers” put themselves and their employer at risk.

Under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in South Australia, an employee injured while attempting a prank at work could lose any claim to compensation, if it is ruled that they were engaging in “serious and wilful misconduct”.

However, there is an exception if a worker suffers a serious injury, or worse, dies.

 “That’s the hitch, in that case the (Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act) ‘serious and wilful misconduct’ provision does not apply,” Mr Bailes said.

“An employer’s concern would be that someone has done something such as a prank, they injure themselves seriously, and they end up with a worker’s compensation liability.”

A number of employees have already been sacked for planking on the job, but Mr Bailes warned organisations to ensure that they have a strong employment policy and code of practice in place, to guard against wrongful dismissal claims.

“If the worker hasn’t been warned in advance that what they did was to be regarded as serious and wilful misconduct, they may have a wrongful dismissal case,” Mr Bailes said.

“It behoves an employer therefore to have a good policy and communicate it to their employees.”

TGB is South Australia’s largest plaintiff law firm.