Since the pandemic, teleworking has come into the lives of millions of employees in Spain. A modality that, apart from providing more productivity and work-life balance, allows companies to save on office expenses. However, this concept arrived in our country due to a force majeure (the covid) and too quickly, even before there was a legal regulation to protect it.
Despite the fact that there is already a Teleworking Law that establishes many guidelines and regulates the practice, there are still common questions such as who has to take care of the electricity and the Internet or even if there are work accidents (while at home).
If they exist. This is what a court in Seville recently ruled in favor of a worker because he considered that the damage caused by a fall occurred during work time, despite being at home. Specifically, he suffered a fall down the stairs of his house that caused him a broken rib and several bruises. After the event, since he was not in the office, he was only recognized as taking leave for common contingencies and he was denied leave due to an accident at work.
However, the Justice ended up agreeing with him since it considers that since the events occurred “in time and place of work” it is a work accident.
Because? They are based on article 156 of the General Social Security Law, which establishes that an accident at work “is one in which the employee suffers on occasion and as a consequence of the work carried out by someone else and that the injuries occur in time and place of work. In the sentence, it is stated that at the time of the accident “the actor was teleworking at his home, the place where he carries out his work activity.”
Thus, the sentence dictates that “it is an accident at work, with the right to profit from said benefit in the amount and effects that are legally applicable.”
The workplace is more than the table and chair. Actually, it is not the first case that justice recognizes a work accident in the home of a remote worker. The injury of an employee in his kitchen by drinking water marked a turning point in the jurisprudence on the matter. In this case, the subject went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water with the misfortune that it slipped and injured his left hand when he fell. He had to undergo surgery, and the worker was discharged.
In this case, a temporary disability was filed due to a “non-work accident” since they assessed that their work space consisted of a table, a chair and a computer at their private home. Therefore, everything that was separated from it eliminated “work” from the equation.
But no, it’s work. It was then that the TSJ of Madrid studied the case and revoked the ruling, agreeing with the employee. The institution relied on several Supreme Court rulings in which work accidents are recognized to employees who suffered “injuries while enjoying the daily rest break”, even when they had left the workplace itself for it. In this case, according to the sentence, the accident had also occurred during his working day, at the home of the affected person where he usually teleworks and while he was carrying out a normal (and necessary) practice such as a break.
What injuries can be considered a work accident? The most common would be bodily injuries suffered as a result of the work being carried out, bearing in mind the consideration in article 156 of the General Law of Social Security, which establishes that, unless proven otherwise, it will be presumed to be an accident work injuries suffered by the worker during the time and in the workplace. And that is precisely one of the problems that usually arise: testing it.
But beware, we are not only talking about injuries. Another judgment from a Girona Court ruled in favor of a woman who suffered an ischemic stroke. The magistrate declared it an accident at work and, therefore, the presumption that the stroke was not related to work was not destroyed.
Is there compensation? Yes. As with other work accidents, the person affected receives an economic benefit of 75% of the regulatory base (similar reference to salary) from the first day of leave, compared to 60% from the fourth to the 20th day and the 75% from the 21st day of sick leave in case of common contingency. In addition, in the event of a lack of safety measures at work, the benefit would be higher and would be at the expense of the company.