What constitutes a workplace accident when you work from home? A German court’s unusual ruling may set the precedent for claims that injuries in the home could be considered work-related when they occur on company time for a remote employee.
Last week, a German court ruled on the case of a sales manager who was working from home in 2018. On his way from his kitchen to his home office, he slipped on a staircase and broke his back.
According to a report in Gizmodo, the man argued “that employees who work from home should not receive less protection from accident insurance than others in the company.” And it seems the judge agreed, ruling that the man could be covered under his employer’s workplace accident insurance policy.
And while the incident – and ensuing court case – didn’t take place on U.S. soil, some experts believe work-from-home injuries might be the “next workers’ comp trend.” According to The Injured Workers Pharmacy, a pharmacy that specializes in the complex workers’ comp system and helps injured workers get their medications, work-from-home injuries began to rise in 2021.
IWP said that “just because the traditional office setting has shifted, that doesn’t mean that injuries won’t occur,” and pointed to common ergonomic issues like back, neck and shoulder pain, along with eye strain and fatigue. IWP elaborated that in order for the at-home injury to be covered by workers compensation, however, it must have occurred when workers are doing something related to their job. That means that in the U.S., “a work-from-home injury such as a slip and fall may not be compensable, depending on what you were doing at the time of the injury and why you were doing it.”
Either way, the organization suggests you “familiarize yourself with the laws of your state and the details of its workers’ compensation system, which will keep you informed of your rights and let you know what to expect.”