When is an accident during telework considered an occupational accident?
What if an employee suffers an accident at home? When is this considered to be an occupational accident? Much depends on when and where it happens.
What is an occupational accident?
The law describes an occupational accident as ‘any accident suffered by an employee while carrying out his/her work and which causes an injury’. The accident must be linked to the professional risks of the job and of the work environment.
There are no mentions of the place. In the workplace, en route or at home: an occupational accident can occur anywhere. It’s the same with teleworking.
However, with teleworking, it is not always clear exactly when an employee is actually working. Employees often determine their own hours (to some extent), and work and private life can easily mingle.
Limited in space and time
In order to avoid confusion, limit your teleworking in space (mandatory) and time (voluntary):
- Limited space: as an employer it is best that you determine in a teleworking agreement the place(s) where the teleworker will conduct his/her work. If the employee suffers an accident in one of these places, then this accident is considered an occupational accident and no further evidence will be required for the insurance.
In the case of accidents in other locations it is up to the teleworker to prove that the accident occurred in the course of his/her work.
- Limited in time: you can also agree times during which the employee will work from home. This is not mandatory. If no explicit mention is made, reference will be made to the hours that apply when the employee is working on the company premises.
Conclusion: an accident is always considered an occupational accident if it occurs both during the stated hours and in the agreed work location(s). If no location or working hours are agreed in writing, then the typical place in the home to conduct telework and the employee’s normal working hours will be used to decide whether or not an accident is occupational.
Did you make written agreements about teleworking as a result of the corona crisis? Then these agreements will apply.
The table below summarises the different situations and consequences.
|The accident occurs …||Is this considered an occupational accident?|
|… in the teleworking location and during the hours defined in the teleworking agreement.||Yes, but as an employer you can provide counter evidence.|
|… in the teleworking location and at the moment that the teleworker is usually working when working on the company premises.||Yes, but as an employer you can provide counter evidence.|
|… in a different place to the one stated in the teleworking agreement.||No, but the employee may submit evidence to demonstrate that the accident occurred while carrying out the work agreement.|
|… before or after the stated hours in the teleworking agreement.||No, but the employee may submit evidence to demonstrate that the accident occurred while carrying out the work agreement.|
|… before or after the working hours that apply in your organisation.||No, but the employee may submit evidence to demonstrate that the accident occurred while carrying out the work agreement.|
Work transport in the case of teleworking
An accident when travelling to and from work is an occupational accident. However, even when working from home, certain trips are considered as work related, namely the trip between the teleworking location and:
- the children’s childcare/school;
- the place where the employee buys or eats meals.
Avoid occupational accidents when teleworking
This information document contains various tips to help your employees stay safe when working from home. Pass it on and help to limit occupational accidents during telework.