Court rules injury on way from bed to desk a ‘workplace accident’

A German court has ruled that a man who wiped out and cracked his spine on the way from his bed to his home office while working remotely is entitled to compensation, deeming his brief and painful journey an “insured activity.”

The Federal Social Court determined that the man – who was “on his way to work from his bedroom to the home office one floor below” when he tripped on a staircase and broke a thoracic vertebra – was traveling along an “insured work route.”

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

While a previous ruling by a lower court found that the man was engaged in an “uninsured preparatory act” and was deemed ineligible for coverage, the federal body vacated that judgement, stating that he was, in fact, insured under his employer. The ruling left unclear whether the plaintiff was working at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic or for another reason.

However, the court added that only a worker’s “first” trip from their bed to their office could be covered as a commute to work, and that later movement between other rooms in their home would not be insured. Compensation for covered activities in the household, or any other location, are “provided to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company premises,” the judge said, so long as the employee is working remotely at the time of the injury.

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