Even before the pandemic began, Work-from-home was steadily gaining popularity. During the pandemic, it gained a whole new status as the boundaries between home and workplace were blurred.
This begs the question- are injuries suffered while working at home treated the same as workplace accidents?
Well, according to the German Federal Social Court, they are.
In 2018, a German man was walking from his bedroom to his home office one floor below through a spiral staircase, when he slipped and injured himself. The man suffered spine injuries for which he made a claim on his employer’s Group Accident Plan.
Group Accident Insurance is taken by companies for the benefit of their employees for any injuries, disability or death suffered by them due to accidents at the workplace.
In this case, the insurance company denied the man’s claim prompting him to file a legal claim. After contradictory rulings from two lower courts, the case finally went to the Federal Social Court in Germany.
On 8 December 2021, the federal court qualified the man’s journey from his bed to his desk as a work commute and deemed the incident as a workplace accident.
You see, in Germany, Group Accident Insurance is only applicable for the first journey to work. Keeping this in mind, the court ruled that since the man starts working immediately without making breakfast, his walk to his desk becomes an insured work route.
The court further stated that the insured event is covered to the same extent when occurring in the household or another location as when occurring on the company premises.
This ruling marks a landmark in the treatment of insurance claims based on work-from-home incidents.