Man who fell walking from bed to desk wins legal claim for ‘workplace accident’

An incident in which a man slipped on the stairs and hurt himself while walking to his home office from bed was deemed a “workplace accident” by a German court.

The man had injured his spine while making his way towards his workstation at home and was entitled to compensation, Germany’s Federal Social Court said in a ruling on Wednesday.

The court arrived at this conclusion because it said the man “was on his way to work from his bedroom to the home office one floor below” and pointed out that this was a commute along an “insured work route”.

“The plaintiff suffered an accident at work when he fell on the way to his home office in the morning,” the court said.

The company’s insurance had reportedly refused to cover the claim.

The matter was heard at a lower social court that deemed the journey to be an “insured work route”, while a regional social court said it was an “uninsured preparatory act that only precedes the actual activity” and deemed the injury to be ineligible for insurance claims.

The higher federal social court, however, disagreed with the regional social court and said the journey was the “first” one undertaken to begin work.

The court said the employee usually began work at his home office “immediately without having breakfast beforehand”.

“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 court said.

It was unclear if the man was working from home due to the Covid pandemic or some other reason.

The court said the law was applicable for employees in “teleworking positions” who have permanent workstations set up at their homes.

It defined such positions as computer workstations “permanently” set up inside any private spaces authorised by the employees and agreed upon in an employment contract or agreement.

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