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A fall walking from bed to desk at home is a workplace accident (Germany)

22 December 2021 Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright

The German Federal Social Court held that an area sales manager working from home was on his way to work and therefore suffered a workplace accident when he slipped down his spiral staircase and broke a thoracic vertebra while going from his bed directly to his computer.

It was important that he alleged that he usually started work immediately without having breakfast beforehand.  He was therefore entitled to cover under the German Workplace Ordinance which covers teleworking employees when setting up and operating workplaces including “when assessing the working conditions and the workplace for the first time”.

The court found that workers should not be in a worse position whilst working from home than employees working at the normal place of employment.  The law applies to “teleworking positions” which are “computer workstations that are permanently set up by the employer in the private area of the employees”.

It seems unlikely that anyone injured at home in Germany will now claim to have breakfast before preparing the workplace.  In South Africa, the Compensation for Injury and Diseases Act does not cover events before work commences such as commuter journeys and is unlikely to cover similar circumstances to the German case.

German Federal Social Court Negotiation B 2 U 4/21 R: 8 December 2021

First published by: Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot

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