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Decision on working from home: Parasol accident was an accident at worka work-related injury

A decision in principle from the Danish National Board of Appeals establishes when you are covered if you sustain an injury when working from home.

17. Apr 2023
4 min
English / Dansk

Is it a work-related injury if you sustain an injury while moving a parasol on the terrace to block the sun from the screen on your workplace computer?

In a decision in principle, the Danish National Board of Appeals concludes that it is.

The Danish National Board of Appeals has now established that very specific conditions for working from home must exist for the employer to bear no responsibility for accidents that occur in the performance of work duties – no matter how strange the place where the work is performed might seem,” says Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, Attorney-at-Law and Chief Legal Adviser at Finansforbundet.

In the specific case, the employee had gone outside to work because the spouse was also working from home and was attending a Zoom meeting in the living room. To work in peace, the employee went outside on the terrace, but when trying to move a parasol to be able to see the computer screen, the employee felt a snap in the arm.

“Employers have no responsibility for the design of the home, but they will bear responsibility if you can somehow relate it to something having to do with the performance of the work.”
- Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, lawyer and Chief Legal Adviser at Finansforbundet.

Working or not working?

It was in fact a work-related injury according to the decision in principle.

“We have taken into account that you were performing work for your employer when you were injured, and that your employer had not required you to perform your work under certain conditions when you work at home,” writes the Danish National Board of Appeals in its decision.

Mette Hjøllund Schousboe explains that it is essentially about whether you sustained the injury while performing your work.

“Employers have no responsibility for the design of the home, but they will have if you can somehow relate it to something having to do with the performance of the work,” she says.

Another example from the new decision in principle concerns an employee who hit the head against a sloping wall when rising from the chair to connect a screen to the computer. This was also assessed to be a work-related injury because it was closely related to the work the employee was doing.

Examples of decisions

Examples of cases involving work-related injuries reviewed by Finansforbundet are:

Example 1
After participating in a virtual meeting at home, an employee went out into the garden for a short break. On coming back into the house, the employee fell and suffered a severe leg fracture. This injury was considered not to be a work-related injury.

Example 2
Just before a meeting, an employee went upstairs at home to fetch a work tool, and in this connection fell on the stairs joining the two floors and sustained an injury. The Danish Labour Market Insurance has acknowledged this as a work-related injury.

Example 3
An employee commuted between regions several times a week. It had been agreed with the employer that the transport time was part of the working hours. The employee was involved in a train accident while commuting and sustained injuries. The accident was acknowledged as a work-related injury.

Plaything or power cord

However, problems may arise if an employee is injured while hanging out the washing or putting out the rubbish. These cases will often be considered not to be work-related injuries.

Nor is it considered a work-related injury if you trip over a plaything on your way out to a work-related meeting, explains Mette Hjøllund Schousboe.

Finansforbundet knows this having had such a case for a member where the fall was not acknowledged as a work-related injury.

"If the employee had tripped over a computer bag or a computer cable, then the outcome might have been different," says the Chief Legal Advisor of Finansforbundet.

As a general rule, the same legislation applies to work-related injuries – regardless of where the work is performed. Nevertheless, it can be more difficult to have an accident at home acknowledged as a work-related injury, because the boundaries for when you are in fact working at your home office are more blurry than when you are working at your workplace.

Therefore, employees will often have to prove that the accident was caused by work and not by the interior design of the home or other circumstances over which the employer has no control.

Once again, Mette Hjøllund Schousboe underlines that it is basically about whether the accident is closely related to the performance of the work.

“But there are still gray areas. Determining what it takes for it to be considered a work-related accident is like walking on a tightrope. It is a very careful assessment that is made on a case-by-case basis," concludes Mette Hjøllund Schousboe.

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