Judgment of the Federal Social Court of 8 December 2021 in Case No. 2 B U 4/21 R
The Federal Social Court (FSC) extends accident insurance protection in the home office: the way from the bedroom to the desk is now also an insured way to work when the employee intends to start work immediately. Accident insurance protection no longer starts with “walking through the front door of the house.”
Facts of the case
The employee was on his way to work from his bedroom to his home office downstairs. Normally, he starts working immediately and does not have breakfast first. While walking down the spiral staircase between the two floors, he slipped and broke one of his thoracic vertebrae. Based on the previous jurisprudence of the Federal Social Court, the employers’ liability insurance association and the Regional Social Court (Landessocialgericht, LSG) of North Rhine-Westphalia (Judgment of 9 November 2020 in case L 17 U 487/19) both rejected his claim for an accident at work.
The FSC reversed the decision of the LSG of North Rhine-Westphalia and confirmed that it was an accident at work. Previously, the FSC has drawn a clear border, so that the way to work only started with “walking through the front door of the house”. The FSC has now abandoned this border in the case of working from home. According to the FSC, an employee who falls on the way directly from their bed to their home office is protected by statutory accident insurance. The route taken to start work in a home office is performed in the interests of the employer and should therefore be insured as a path at work.
Consequences for practice
With this judgment, the FSC extends its accident insurance protection for employees working from home. It should be noted that this case stems from an accident that occurred in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The obligation to work from home during the pandemic did not play a role. The decision also did not concern the explicit statutory extension of industrial accident protection to the home office and remote working, which entered into force on 18 June 2021 – as implemented through the new § 8 (1) third sentence of the Seventh Volume of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB VII). The present situation has become significantly more relevant since 2018, and the decision is likely to be relevant to numerous older cases simply because of the Corona pandemic.
By recognising the “domestic route to work” as an insured route, the FSC abandons its restrictive case law based on its previous legal position. This brings the judgment into line with what the legislator is seeking to achieve with the new § 8 (1) third sentence of the Seventh Volume of the Social Code: comprehensive accident insurance for remote working and working from home. Further cases will be needed to clarify when the rule applies and will probably follow.
The extended accident insurance protection has made remote work and working from home even more attractive for employees. Employers should therefore think now about how they will deal with employee requests to continue using the current proven working model after the end of the Corona pandemic. The clock can no longer be turned back on these developments. Employers should therefore prepare themselves now.