Most of the people who work from home sit at a laptop or PC. Admittedly, the likelihood of injuring yourself at a computer workstation may be low compared to the risks involved in construction or professional athletes. But even in the home office, accidents do happen again and again, despite all caution.
In the event of accidents at work, the statutory accident insurance is usually liable for personal injury. But how is insurance coverage regulated in the home office? Because when work and living space merge, it can be difficult to strictly separate professional and private life.
- Home office, mobile working and teleworking – what is the difference?
- Also protected in the home office
- Liability is an individual matter
- Here the paths lead apart
- Tangled cables and Lego building blocks
Home office, mobile working and teleworking – what’s the difference?
When we talk about the “home office” in everyday language, we usually only make it clear that one works from home in some form. From the point of view of occupational health and safety law, however, a basic distinction is made between two working models: teleworking and mobile work.
Teleworking requires a clear contractual agreement between the company and the employed person. In this case, employers are responsible for setting up a permanent workplace in the private area of the employees. And with all the trimmings: Furniture and work equipment must be provided and safely installed. The workplace ordinance (ArbStättV) stipulates the requirements and framework conditions for this.
The situation is different when employees work from home temporarily, but not permanently Having a teleworking position: Then we are talking about mobile work. Whether a desk, kitchen table or balcony is used for the home office is irrelevant. In contrast to telework, mobile working is therefore not subject to the requirements of the workplace ordinance.
Also protected in the home office
The following applies to both teleworking and mobile working: the Occupational Safety and Health Act (ArbSchG) and accident prevention regulations (UVV) are no less relevant in the home office than in the office. The duty of care requires employers to ensure the safety of their employees. Since employees are more responsible for their own health protection, especially in the home office, employers should offer even more support. This also includes instructing employees in health-promoting measures such as adhering to working hours and breaks or ergonomic workplace design.
Protection in the home office also remains unaffected the statutory accident insurance. If an accident occurs in connection with the insured activity, the employers’ liability insurance association or accident insurance company will assume the costs of treatment and downtime.
The mixture of professional and private spheres is effective however, is based on insurance coverage in the home office. When an accident is judged as an occupational accident by the court rulings, it depends to a large extent on the individual case. Here it is worth taking a look at past judgments of the Federal Social Court.
Liability is an individual matter
What counts for the office also applies to the home office: The decisive factor is not the accident environment, but always the question of whether the action and accident event are factually related to the professional activity. Also called tendency to act.
Principles can be summarized as follows: Accidents that are directly caused by the performance of the professional activity are covered by the statutory accident insurance . If business activities are interrupted for private purposes, employees are no longer insured against accidents during this time. Breaks of any kind are assessed as self-economic activities, for example also private phone calls.
On the way to the business premises, employees are on a social security code after leaving their front door insured commute. If employees injure themselves on the way from the home office to a customer appointment or meeting in the office, there is a commuting accident. In the event of accidents on the way to and from home, however, the DGUV often rejects the services requested. For example, if the desk is left to go to the coffee machine in the kitchen.
Here the paths lead apart
In these cases, the regulations for home office and office differ: although the outward and return journeys to the canteen or toilet are insured in the operating rooms, but not in the home office. This is the verdict of the Munich Social Court on the lawsuit of an employee who wanted to claim a fall between the toilet and his home office. The accident happened on the way to a highly personal act. Employers are also not able to ensure the comprehensive security of the facility in the private premises of their employees.
On the other hand, one was able to prevail Plaintiff who fell on the stairs on the way to her office in the basement and injured her spine. The accident happened when the employee, packed with a laptop, stumbled on the way to a business phone call. The employers’ liability insurance association rejected their application, but the Federal Social Court ruled in November 2018: It was an accident at work.
The current legal situation has some catching up to do for accident insurance for employees who bring their children to a care center from the home office. After all, if you drop your children off at the daycare center or school on the way to the company premises, you are usually covered by statutory accident insurance. When a mother fell on her bike on her way back from daycare to the home office and broke her elbow, the BSG rejected the reimbursement of treatment costs in its judgment of January 2020.
Cable jumble and Lego building blocks
It is not surprising that the corona pandemic also influenced the accident rate – so it comes from a published statistic of the DGUV. In the first half of 2020, the number of occupational accidents fell by 15.2 percent, and reported commuting accidents even fell by 20.2 percent.
Statistically speaking falls are the most common cause of accidents. It is therefore important: Even in the home office, tripping hazards should definitely be cleared out of the way. Accumulations of loose cables, toys lying around and improvised ladders have led to many a misfortune.
It is easier said than done, but not only for him Accident protection should be kept separate from each other as much as possible in the home office. If an accident occurs, it is imperative to document the exact circumstances of the event. The time and place of the accident, as well as evidence and witness statements on the activity at the time of the accident are decisive indicators for determining the tendency to act – and the clarification of the question of whether or not there is an industrial accident. For further reading:
- Anyone who stumbles in the home office is not insured
- Onboarding in the home office: That is the biggest challenge – according to the HR manager
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