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Update Employment Law February 2022

Statutory accident insurance on the way from bed to home office

Federal Social Court, judgment of December 8th, 2021, file number B 2 U 4/21 R

More and more employees are working from home. This not only has to do with restrictions due to the Corona pandemic, but is also an expression of a changed working world that is becoming increasingly flexible. If, in the future, a right to work from home, independent of Corona, would actually be introduced by legislation, the number of employees working from home would increase even further.

These changes are now taken into account by a ruling of the Federal Social Court (BSG). Until now, the clear ruling of the BSG in the past was that an employee working from home would not be insured for accidents on his way to his desk within his own four walls. The clear definition was always that the protection by the insurance only started when the employee crossed the threshold of the front door of the building in which the employee's home is located. 

In the case now decided, the plaintiff worked at home. His study was located one floor below the bedroom. After waking up in the morning, the plaintiff usually went directly to the study without having breakfast first. One morning, on his way from the bedroom to the study, the plaintiff fell on the stairs and fractured a thoracic vertebra. However, the employers' liability insurance refused to pay any benefits. The first-instance social court rendered a judgment in favour of the plaintiff/employee and considered the route from the bed to the study (home office) to be an insured route of the employee. The next instance, however, classified it only as an uninsured preparatory act. The regional social court denied a commuting accident and referred to the previous case law of the BSG. 

However, the BSG now overturned its previous case law and ruled that the first morning trip from bed to home office can also be an insured trip to the workplace. According to the findings of the lower court, taking the stairs to the study served solely to start work first thing on that day and was therefore insured as a commute in the interest of the employer. 

Previous case law had a clear approach with regard to accidents on the way to and from work: Insurance coverage only began when the employee actually left the building where he lives. However, this case law no longer corresponded to the working reality of many employees, as such, the adjustment of the case law is justified. 

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