Falling out of bed
So if you fall out of bed after a bad nightmare you can claim on your employer's insurance?
A German employer has been left on the hook after a worker slipped and broke his back on the "commute" from his bed to the home office. It's not something companies coping with the ongoing work-from-home wave will want to hear, but the bloke's fall on his spiral staircase was ruled a "workplace accident" by Germany's federal …
I suspect that this was a case of the bloke's Personal insurance company novating him and suing the Work insurance company, so that they shift the cost from themselves to the other insurer. Chap could well have had no say in the matter, just be looking on bemusedly from his hospital bed and full body cast.
The depth of pocket necessary to run thru 3 levels of Court is suggestive, adds weight to the theory.
Every workplace in Germany would have that kind of insurance for their employees, or one of two things will happen: 1. They get shut down. 2. If an accident happens before they are shut down, the company pays, and if they don't have the money, the owners pay out of their private pocket. As a result, see the first line.
Novation: the process by which the megacorporations we've sold our souls to negotiate between themselves over who has to muck out our stalls this week. (my definition)
A real definition: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/novate
I had no idea a word had been coined for such a concept. Thanks!
I can think of a few insurance policy types which could include it, from loss-of-earnings to home-insurance, but I'd think the most likely would be simple health insurance (which in the UK is nationalised but still there and still called (national) insurance so could well have administrators looking to offload treatment costs where possible). He's injured, so he'd claim on that.
Normally, if two insurance policies cover an incident, both pay out a portion of the payout. I guess if one policy says "no payout if another policy covers the incident", it wouldn't apply and the other insurance pays out. What happens if both say the same thing would be interesting as you could argue neither apply...
Did you read the article? Falling out of bed because of a nightmare is not commute to work, therefore it is not covered.
This was in a German court, with German laws and a German judge, and they act very logically. First, you are insured for any accident on your commute directly from home to work and your commute back. That has been the case for over 100 years, and insurance companies pay for thousands of those every year. Second, the judge said, quite correctly, that if you get out of bed and go straight to your works computer, that is a commute and therefore any accidents are covered by insurance.
this is unlikely to impact the insurance companies bottom line.
If anything did look like it was going to, their first step would be to increase their prices. The second step would be to stick in more exclusionary clauses.
"insurance doesn't occur until you cross the building threshold"
Hmm, here in France it is considered that a commute is a work related activity and would not be happening if not going to work, therefore if one is in a crash on the way to work (or home), then it counts as a type of "accident de travail". It isn't just their home either, other residences regularly visited for family reasons count (such as if they went to their brother's after work), as well as any journey undertaken to go eat at lunchtime.
any journey undertaken to go eat at lunchtime.
Yes, that happened to me. My wife had collected me and we were on our way to get lunch when we were rear-ended when stopped at a red light. No injuries apart from a few short-lived aches & pains from seat belt & headrest impact, insurance paid for the written-off car without a problem (the at-fault driver admitted everything), but I'd made the mistake of commenting to the police who attended that I was on my lunch break, and that got officially written-up. HR & the health insurance then started chasing me up to fill in vast amounts of paperwork to declare it an 'accident de travail'. Such a PITA I wished I'd kept my mouth shut.
I know a few people who lost out on car accident insurance claims in France. Because they only had standard car insurance policies and had left work early for personal
You are only covered to drive to and from work at accepted commute hours.
(I still pay for full business car insurance coverage even though I do not do much onsite work any more.)
"at accepted commute hours"
Interesting. If the employer accepted the change, it should be counted.
"En cas de modification exceptionnelle des horaires du salarié décidée ou acceptée par l’employeur, l’horaire de trajet est inhabituel mais l’accident reste considéré comme un accident de trajet."
Plus, isn't it the employer's insurance that gets involved in this case, and not your own?
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Very much a grey area, with the insurance company deciding. Hence why I still pay top whack for business insurance. Just for peace of mind. I don't have to fill or justify the "reason for trip" when making a claim.
In the old days there was a tendency to have "pool" insurance to cover employees' occasional trips. But these were mostly dropped and/or had extrely limited kilometre clauses.
Expect the insurance companies to define commute to be travel/journey in public space ie. you need to at least step outside of your front gate on to the public pavement. Plus add clauses so that you can't claim for falls on your ice-covered path on route to your garage with the intent of getting into your vehicle to go to work.
German insurance companies have no say in deciding what is a workplace accident, that is up to the courts. Plus, this is usually not covered by a private insurance company, but by a Berufsgenossenschaft which is a non-profit organisation with the goal of helping companies (by keeping their employees healthy, by stopping them from violating regulations, and so on).
Is something the German public is likely to have granted to them following this pandemic. This was something they were asking for long before the great public health disaster of 2019 and now the whole population has a very simple, easy justification for it.
What's more likely to happen is insurance companies making the legal argument that if the home is the workplace then it's subject to the same workplace health and safety policies as the main office (no smoking, no pets, fire extinguishers present at key doorways, LED lighting for a safe exit in an emergency etc.) and refusing to pay out if all the criteria are not met.
There is already a legal requirement for the workspace to be ergonomic - desk, chair, monitor, mouse, keyboard etc. and anything that is missing is the responsibility of the employer to provide.
If you have an employee who already has a decent office set-up at home (E.g. I have height adjustable desks, decent displays, ergonomic keyboards and mice), then the employer doesn't have to do much. If the employee is sitting on a dining chair at the table, or sitting on the sofa with a laptop balanced on their knee, then they need to ensure that a desk, monitor, keyboard and mouse are provided.
If the employee decides not to use the equipment and suffers injury through improper use, they are not covered by the company insurance.
But it is going to be very expensive to get people set-up with professional equipment at home.
I think the key words in the article in that regard are that the equipment used by the bloke in question was set up by the company in the home of the employee. Thus the company in this case IS responsible for the setup used in this case (and this is probably what will break some other cases if a person is just opening their company laptop on the kitchen table)
If the employee decides not to use the equipment and suffers injury through improper use, they are not covered by the company insurance.The employer sets up the proper equipment at the office, if the employee is working remote, then they have "chosen not to use the provided equipment"
But it is going to be very expensive to get people set-up with professional equipment at home.
At least that's how it would work in The Land of the Fee.
Remember this is in Germany, where _any_ commute to and from work is insured. Insurance companies will do no such thing because the number of cases where someone falls down the stairs when going from bedroom to their home office is minimal compared to the payouts for thousands of traffic accidents where people are injured on their way to work.
But if he was carrying a drink he couldn't have been maintaining 3 points of contact while climbing the stairs and so was negligent. Assuming he had received working at heights safety training, if not everyone who works from home in a house with stairs will now need their fall-arrest ticket
I can't maintain two points of contact when carrying any drink on the stairs: due to a quite significant hereditary tremor, I have to use two hands to carry any uncovered drink, hot or cold, even on the flat. Three options: brain surgery, beta-blockers (which gave me vertigo that lasted ten years after I stopped taking them), or booze. And no stress or anxiety, which is not so easy with a boss who likes to micro-manage.
I could see in the US that the company would then sue the homeowner to recover costs with the rationale that it was an unsafe staircase. Since the homeowner was the employee, their homeowners would then need to cover the costs and the employees homeowners insurance premium would probably go up as a result.
In America, before the pandemic but in response to Congressional budget shenanigans (and weather emergencies) which forced designated "critical" Federal employees to work from home, each employee had to carryout and certify that their WFH office met listed criteria.
It's not a stretch to see that adopted by more employers, including not only the office but also the "commute", for insurance purposes.
If you usually work from home on HMG business, with access to sensitive data, your boss has to personally check the location for physical security (or send someone expert round to do it). Not sure if they check for Health and Safety of the router from bed to desk though.
Speaking personally, I always ablate and wash first, so I'd not have qualified anyway. But then, fortunately I've not (yet) broken my back, although I did once stub a toe quote painfully :o(
Technically that is already the case. The current wording around working from home vs. teleworking vs. working from a home office is very carefully crafted so they don't have to send H&S to check whether window glare reflects on your screen and whether your chair meets ergonomic requirements etc., not to mention things like "can you lock away the computer or otherwise ascertain your kid doesn't install their virus-ridden pirated copy of Doom on the device you're handling business matters on".
Some insurance companies already mandate this for home working. You as the home worker have to consider what is risky in what you would consider the workplace at home. If it's the next room, then you're probably ok, but if it's downstairs and you sleep upstairs, the stairs do add a risk that needs to be declared.
Welcome to the new world.
If you are "just" working from home, as opposed to being in lockdown and working from home, the employer is already responsible for performing an assessment of the "home office", to ensure you have a height adjustable desk, a proper desk chair (height adjustable, arms, tilt etc.) and that monitors, keyboard and mouse are made available (possibly also a docking station, considering the lack of ports on many modern laptops).
Anything that is missing has to be supplied by the company, if they are letting the employee work from home. That generally means at least a doubling of costs for the workspace, as they will generally also have an office in the company's building.
Logistics will also be much more expensive, ensuring the equipment is delivered and installed properly and organising the collection of the equipment when the employee leaves the company, (moving it to temporary storage) and on to the next employee.
This is probably one of the reasons why employers aren't very interested in home working, when it hasn't been forced on them in the shape of a lockdown.
(General rule: If you work in Germany, you employer's insurance covers the direct route to and from the place of work. That means, if you have an accident on the way to or from work, you get compensated through the employer/their insurance.
If you deviate from the "most direct route" - that can be argued with alternate routes due to roadworks etc. - and, say, drive to the petrol station to refuel the car or you drive to the supermarket on the way home, the employer's insurance cover doesn't cover the journey.)
No. Your commute to work has been insured for over 100 years, and Germans managed just fine without in person risk assessment of people's cars, motorbikes, bicycles or whatever they used to get to work. Why on earth would they start assessing people's homes? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
It is already a requirement here.
We've been ordering monitors, keyboard, mice, docking stations etc. for home-office use like nobody's business. Luckily we aren't responsible for ensuring the office furniture is up to spec in home offices, that is another department!
But I did have to sign off that my home working environment is up to scratch - it is actually better equipped than my office workspace.
Seems like you would still have to come down the stairs in the morning if you are commuting to an office, so they would be on the hook for that accident regardless.
I thought the US was king of the frivolous lawsuit, but I guess Germany is trying to outdo us!
This verdict seems to make it out as though the employer is liable for injuries on any part of the commute to work, so if the bloke had tripped and fallen as he was walking down the pavement on the way to the office the employer would be have to pay compensation. That doesn't seem right?
This is standard in Germany: Your commute is covered under the employers insurance. But only the direct commute, no excurses to Starbucks or shopping for groceries.
This is nothing new but well established.
New is that a court found that under specific circumstances, this also applies to your commute from bed to work desk.
That is correct, though. Normally the commute starts when you leave the house - or if you have woken up and went to the bathroom or had breakfast, then the last bit between the kitchen and your home office.
It seems that if you tumble directly out of bed and down the stairs into your home office, that is now the commute.
If you are going to a real place of work, you are covered as soon as you leave the house and during the normal (direct) way to work. The same for going home. If you make a detour, for instance to go shopping or to fuel the car, the company insurance doesn't cover any injuries. So, if you slip on a banana in the supermarket, their insurance and not your employer's covers you.
That is EXACTLY right. In Germany, and in France, the commute directly from home to work and back is part of your work and is insured. Any accident during that commute, the employer would have to pay, except the employer is also required to have insurance for this, so the insurance has to pay.
The whole court case was just about the question: If you get out of bed and go straight to your works computer, is that a "commute", that is is it travelling from home to work? And the answer was a clear "yes".
What exactly is "loony" about this? If I'm employed, I have costs that an unemployed person wouldn't have, and I have risks that an unemployed person wouldn't have. For example the cost of going to work, and the risk of getting injured when travelling to work. It's common sense that all the cost that you have because you are going to work is tax deductible (yes, your train ticket is tax deductible in Germany, the actual cost of your home office is tax deductible, not a ridiculous £6 per day), and all the risk (like accidents while travelling to work) is insured.
I usually like to see things from an employee's perspective or the middle ground, but this strikes me as problematic from many angles.
Let's say I'm having a beer in the evening and finishing off a big project. Can I still claim? My employer and their insurance would want a risk assessment and probably want me to sign h&s agreements (wet floors, stairs, electric stuff, photos?.
But seriously, imo my commute is when I leave the house to physically head to work. If I spaz my back walking around my home find to my laptop, surely that should fall under my insurance?
Indeed, as companies are required to have such insurance this ruling will be based on the principle that the insured pays that the burden of the injury is shared as widely as possible rather than lie entirely on one badly injured person.
The same principle applies if you hit a reckless pedestrian in your car, your insurance will end up paying regardless of the actions of the pedestrian.
Insurance companies do what the courts tell them to.
True, provided you can get the court to tell them what to do.
There seems to be a lot of people who believe that they have much more power than they do.
Insurance companies have been known to go to extreme lengths to avoid paying out claims.
Not at all. The company is liable. The insurance is liability insurance, therefore the insurance has to pay. They would have to prove gross liability. Since nobody in German does that kind of idiotic home inspection, that's not negligent. And falling down the stairs wasn't grossly negligent.
Should I be clearer? Worker puts in claim for updating Windows as per the OP comment. Queried with IT dept over cost. BOFH goes out to investigate why their department is being questioned over a cost they usually manage to disguise through finance. After all, they don't want anyone scrutinising the accounting in too much depth. Finds con artist employee at home. Asks to see this Windows upgrade. Checks Windows open correctly. Finds potential insecurity which is demonstrated to end user in a lesson they're unlikely to forget. Well at least they're unlikely to forget if they ever come out of the coma.
Bastard Operator Working From (other people's) Home.
> more than half of UK employees would quit if their company pulled hybrid working options
Although I reckon that is about the norm, with or without any particular benefit being the subject of the survey.
The point being that there is a large proportion of employees who spend all their time grumbling about how bad their employer / boss / working conditions are
And how they are (always) thinking of leaving.
But none of them ever do (more's the pity for those they would leave behind). Partly because they are all talk and no trousers, but mostly because no other company would employ a morose git who would spend their entire time at their new company complaining about how bad things there were.
I'd say home/hybrid working is bit different to the bowl of fruit the dieting boss and office jogging zealot bother with.
Not having 3 hours a day eaten up getting from a to b and the stress involved all so a mediocre boss can see bums on seats is a better perk than cake on birthday, company bbq, fruit etc, if your job is computer based there is no need to travel, if your employers IT is so rudimentary they don't have a vpn or the trust in their work force to wfh, get a better job, and let the dinosaurs go extinct
"First morning journey" are the operative words here as it was emphasised that the guy started work "immediately without having breakfast beforehand" – the suggestion being that if he had descended the staircase and fallen while on his way to fill a bowl of Frosties, the claim he was commuting could have failed.
So he fell and broke his back and then immediately started work. This says nothing about his intent when he first stepped on the staircase.
If you read the article, he did that regularly - directly from bed to work - and most importantly, the insurance company didn't claim otherwise. Plus being a civil case, you'd have to decide what is more likely to be correct, and since the employee was actually there and the insurance company wasn't, and since it is illegal to lie in court, the employee would be believed anyway.
If you drip on your way to the restroom- in the office - it is your private business, meaning no coverage. If you were on the way to the Xerox machine in the room next to the restroom it is a work related accident.
Medical coverage is much better for work related accidents then what your ordinary health insurance would cover.
The court decision put special emphasis on the way to the home office only being insured if it can be proven that the insured person was indeed traveling for the first time of the day into the home office, which must be a dedicated room separated from the rest of the dwelling (in this case being on a different level). That first walk is unavoidable, and thus insured, coffee and bathroom breaks probably won't be.
A brief report of the decision by the court: https://www.bsg.bund.de/SharedDocs/Verhandlungen/DE/2021/2021_12_08_B_02_U_04_21_R.html
Perhaps that's what he calls it now.
One of my clients had an office on the third floor of a building in Chelsea accessed by a spiral staircase. It must have somehow passed fire-regs but I wouldn't like to be there in the event of a fire.
I supplied them with an A3 colour laser printer and wondered how the hell we would get it up there. I think the only time I ever took my hat off to Initial City Link was the day it was delivered. A few of us were around at the time. "Where do you want it?" the delivery driver asked (it must have been his first day).
We showed him.
Amazingly he was up for it, and between three or four of us got it up there in one piece (the printer and the courier).
Thats nothing, ACC in New Zealand would cover full medical, rehabilitation expenses and 80% lost income for a drunk tourist arriving from overseas tripping over the step from the plane onto the airbridge at Auckland airport.
Literally, everyone physically in New Zealand at the time of an accident is covered. We are talking private medical cover standard of care too, none of the "come back in a month if its still a problem" or "refer you onto a queue thats 18 months long" kind of non care that that happens in the UK with the under funded NHS.
While that's true, you can't sue those responsible for your accident in court, so you could be missing out on a much bigger pay out that can fund private health care and more.
Also there's no incentive on those responsible to change as they are never held financially responsible.
Swings and roundabouts I guess.
[The law applies ... where] "computer workstations" are "permanently set up by the employer in the private area of the employees."
So, do laptops count as "permanent"? No? What if there is a docking station?
"Set up by the employer"? Does a PFY have to visit before this clause is triggered?
I'll chalk the "private area" bit to Google Translate...
Sounds quite precise TBH. Reminds me of Douglas Adam's defining life as that property a being would lose after falling from a mysterious ice-coated cave suspended several miles up in the sky above the ground. The definition could equally apply to the being's spectacles.
The employer is responsible for ensuring the employee has a proper (H&S compliant) workspace in their "home office" (so no sitting on the couch with the laptop on the knee). Anything not "up to spec" has to be provided by the employer.
If the employee doesn't use the supplied workspace and gets injured (bad back, carpal-tunnel etc.) that is their problem. If they were sitting at the desk and the chair broke & they injured their back, the company insurance would pay, bad posture, when the company provides the right equipment, no.
I had very generous "death in service" life insurance that covered me in the event of my death while commuting from home to the office. My wife was under strict instructions that were I to die at home for any reason she was to wait till the time of my next morning commute then drag my lifeless body out to the road.
Umm, as I understand things, if you mainly regularly work at a specific location for two or more years, then according to the UK's HMRC, that is your designated place of work for tax and expenses rules. This would mean that anyone who has been told to work from home for the last two years, and done so, would have no legal claim to work in an office building, even the one they used to use.
Now, that could mean being able to claim expenses from your employer for any trip into 'the office', but it could also mean that your employer might no longer be required to provide you with any office, and could then save the money of heating, or even having an office building.
I think we need a lawyer specialising in employment law to provide 'an opinion' on this one.*
*Well, those of you who are still employed might, I'm retired so watching from the sidelines, as it were.
reading this story , and the comments about how insurance companies operate , and about where and when people try to claim ..
just makes me weep for mankind .
If your a stuntman , underwater welder , soldier , coal miner .
Yes insurance might need to be a thing .
If someone cant sit at a desk in an office , or make their way to it , without hurting themsleves , and then feeling the need that someone else should pay for it .. well
You see, you go to Germany and tell them this, they will look at you and wonder what is going wrong in your head. You can have an utterly stupid accident tomorrow. Not be able to work, lose your home, your wife gets a divorce because you can't feed her or the children, do you think that is something you want?