In the past, the Federal Social Court (BSG) has been very reluctant to classify accidents in the home office as occupational accidents and has therefore regularly rejected statutory accident insurance cover for employees who suffered accidents. The decision of the Federal Social Court of December 8, 2021 (file no. B 2 U 4/21) is all the more surprising. In this decision, the Federal Social Court clarified that the initial journey from the bed to the home office workplace is an insured way to work. An accident on this way constitutes an occupational accident. As many employees are currently working from home due to the pandemic, this decision comes at just the right time.
A field sales manager regularly went from his bedroom to his home office without eating breakfast. On the way there, he fell on the stairs and sustained a fracture of a thoracic vertebra. The Employer’s Liability Insurance Association refused to pay benefits. According to the Employer’s Liability Insurance Association, accident insurance coverage in a private apartment only begins when the employee reaches his home office workplace. According to them, the way there was a non-insured preparatory act.
However, the Federal Social Court affirmed that the employee was entitled to benefits under the statutory accident insurance. The initial journey to the home workplace was an insured way to work and not merely an uninsured preparatory act if the home office was located in the private living space. In the present case, the stairs were used solely for the purpose of starting work in the home office and their usage was therefore in the direct interest of the employer. During the activity leading to the accident, i.e. passing the stairs, the employee wanted to perform an activity serving the employer, i.e. to start work.
Especially in view of the ongoing pandemic and the extensive obligation of employees to work from home, the current decision of the Federal Social Court is of particular practical importance. Although a provision was already included in the law in June 2021, according to which insurance cover for activities in the insured person’s household or at another location are covered to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company’s premises (Sec. 8 (1) sent. 3 German Social Code VII), the Federal Social Court decision further strengthens the legal position of employees.