The man fell and broke his back during his morning ‘commute’ to his home office. Court says he is eligible for statutory compensation.
A German court has ruled that a man who fell down the stairs while walking from his bedroom to his home office in the morning can claim statutory accident insurance.
The court’s ruling could have a bearing on employee rights in the post-pandemic world where millions of people have been working from home and a large number of organisations are attempting to create a new work culture that entails less office attendance.
The Federal Social Court, which oversees social security issues, said in its decision that the man had been on the way from the bedroom to his work station one floor below, when he slipped on the spiral staircase and broke his thoracic vertebra. The man normally starts work “without having breakfast beforehand,” the judgment stated. He was not named.
The man’s insurance claim for work-related accidents was previously denied after two lower courts made different interpretations in the case. A social court, which has jurisdiction over litigation cases that relate to social security matters, first ruled that the first journey to a home office in the morning can be considered an insured route to work. A regional social court, however, said the ‘commute’ was only a preparatory act to actual work activity and, as such, it was uninsured.
The federal court upheld the ruling of the first court. “If the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person or at another location, insurance cover is provided to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company premises,” the federal court said.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has normalised remote work, with many companies encouraging employees to work from home even after restrictions were lifted. Many employees now expect more flexibility from their employer in terms of where they can carry out their work from.
The pandemic has also left millions of people jobless around the world, and created vast inequalities. Some workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely, such as nurses or drivers, have been exposed to higher infection risk.