Many thousands of employees work in the home office. The Corona crisis leaves no other choice. But what happens if an accident happens while working in your own four walls? There are clear rules for this.
If an accident occurs in the home office, the employer’s statutory accident insurance must pay. However, one important caveat applies: Provided that an action was taken in the interest of the company and not for purely private reasons. A judgment by the Federal Social Court in December 2021 underpins the expansion of the requirements in the Social Security Code (SGB) of June 2021 on accident insurance protection when working from home.
Specifically, this is about Section 8 of SGB VII. The current legal situation equates working from home with working in the company and gives employees certainty after many months.
The distances at home are short, but it happens again and again: a slip, a fall, an office chair tipping over. Unfortunately, workers who work from home are not immune to accidents. This is also the case in a case heard in court. A worker fell on the spiral staircase leading to his office in the morning of 2018. He sustained a fractured thoracic vertebra. But his employer’s trade association refused to pay, even though the employee was on his way to his office for work. She justified it with the fact that the insurance cover only begins in the office and the accident did not occur on an insured route. As a result, the victim went to court.
The court of first instance agreed with the plaintiff employee. She saw an accident at work in the case, since the plaintiff was on the direct way to work. However, the second instance disagreed and argued that routes within one’s own home were not covered by insurance. The supreme Federal Social Court confirmed the opinion of the first instance, regardless of the amendments that have since been made to the law. In this case, climbing the stairs served to start work and, as a performance in the employer’s interest, was an insured way to work. Therefore, the judges of the second Senate classified the fall as an accident at work, which falls under the protection of statutory accident insurance.
Although the case under discussion occurred before the corona pandemic, it is highly explosive, especially in these times. If an accident happens on the way to work, you don’t necessarily have to leave your home. In the case of home office, the routes within a household are the same as the operational routes if they are directly related to work.
With a change in the law, they have now been expressly insured since June 2021. In the case of accidents at work that occurred before that, the court judgment takes effect retrospectively. This means that employees in similar cases no longer have to worry.
Incidentally, not only the journey to work counts, but also the journey to the kitchen to get coffee or to take a lunch break, and going to the toilet is now part of the journey to work. Employees in private households are no longer worse off than in companies.
Good for parents: Commuting accidents on the direct way to the day care center or kindergarten are also insured if the work is done in the home office and childcare is required. However, routes that exclusively serve private interests are not insured. If someone injures themselves on the way to the front door because they are receiving a parcel from the postman, this is not covered by company insurance.
The insurance cover in the home office has the same scope as when working in the company. If there is an accident at work, the statutory accident insurance must pay for the consequential costs. In addition to the direct treatment costs, this also applies to rehabilitation measures or pension payments. Damage to or loss of aids, such as glasses breaking, are also covered by the insured benefits.
In order for the accident to be recognized as an accident at work, it is important that the person concerned informs their employer about the accident immediately and consults an accident insurance doctor (“D-Arzt”). However, the decision as to whether an accident is to be classified as an accident at work is made by the statutory accident insurance. Their information hotline answers initial questions and, if necessary, forwards them to the responsible trade association. Many office employees are protected by an administrative professional association (VBG).