How Liable are you for Homeworker Accidents?

A recent case in Germany where a man fell and broke his back on his own stairs while ‘commuting’ to work from his bedroom to his home office, has employers rattled after the court ruled that he was entitled to claim workplace accident insurance compensation for his injuries. 

The reasoning was that ‘if the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person, or at another location, insurance cover is the same, as if the activity were carried out at the company premises’.

Considering the increased number of people working from home following Covid-19, it’s important to understand your liability as an employer.

It should be noted that unlike in Germany, occupational personal accident insurance, is not mandatory or routinely provided by employers in this country. However, here in the UK employers are required to insure against liability for bodily injury or disease sustained by employees arising from their employment.

So, what is your legal duty when you have employees working from home?

Well, in short, your duty includes ‘the provision of safe premises and a safe place to work. This covers premises owned or occupied by the employer as well as those of third parties’. You are expected to act reasonably to ensure premises are safe. It is highly unlikely that you would be liable for premises you have no control over – i.e. your employees’ homes.

However, you do have a certain level of duty of care and individual cases should be considered carefully. For example, if you have an employee working from home who has a disability or works with hazardous substances or tools, then a home visit to assess the level of risk and what can be done to reduce the risk should be made.