Walking a couple of feet from your bed to your home office can be considered a commute, at least according to a German court.
A man slipped and broke his back while traveling down a spiral staircase from his bedroom to his home office in 2018. The employer’s insurance refused to cover the workplace accident insurance claim.
But a federal appeals court for social security cases ruled Wednesday that the “first morning journey from bed to the home office [was] an insured work route,” and was covered by insurance.
The court didn’t state whether the man had been working from home temporarily. The decision points to wider issues around the world as companies grapple with a constantly evolving work-from-home landscape.
In this case, the court said that if the insured activity is carried out in the insured person’s household “or at another location,” then insurance coverage is provided “to the same extent” as when it happens on the company’s premises.
The court noted that the man “starts to work [at his home office] immediately without having breakfast beforehand.”
It did note, however, that German law “tak[es] into account the nature of teleworking spaces” in its protections of operating workplaces. The ordinance defines teleworking spaces as “computer workstations that are permanently set up by the employer in the private area of the employees, for which the employer has agreed upon a weekly working time and the duration of the facility.”
In Italy, where coffee-drinking culture is cherished, the nation’s Supreme Court last month found that workers take coffee breaks at their own risk. An Italian public servant took a coffee break during one workday morning in 2009, and on her way back to the office she tripped and broke her wrist.
The Italian Supreme Court ruled that coffee-break-related injuries were not workplace injuries, and her workplace was not obligated to compensate her for the accident.
The plaintiff’s lawyer said that the client didn’t “leave the office to go shopping — she was satisfying a physiological need.”