Your bed to your desk is the new commute? It's not just a joke any more. Last week, a court in Germany ruled that a man who fell on the way to work and broke his back can claim medical costs from his employer's insurance because the accident happened during his commute. The twist: the commute was walking down the stairs from his bedroom to his home office.
Initially, the man's employer's insurance refused to cover the claim as the entire accident happened at his home. The case went from a lower court - which declared the trip from bedroom to home office to be an 'insured work route' - to a regional court, which disagreed, calling the walk down the stairs an 'uninsured preparatory act', Then the case wound up in the federal court, which found that the journey was the first one that the man undertook to begin work and ruled that the walk was therefore, in fact, an insured activity.
According to the court, "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 that this applies to employees who have established permanent workstations in their homes.
German employment law holds employers responsible for the health and safety of employees even when they are working from home: employers are required to undertake some form of risk assessment for home offices. This has generally been assumed to cover home office equipment, and whether this responsibility extends to other parts of the home has not previously been put to the test. But if the medical claims and costs associated with working from home rise, employers may need to again review their management of occupational health and safety for remote workers.