Podcast: Broken Bones Break Logic In Breaking News

The Busyness Paradox Episode #31: Broken Bones Break Logic In Breaking News

*****BREAKING NEWS!!!******

Your (sort of) regularly scheduled episode of The Busyness Paradox has been postponed so that we can bring you coverage of a stunning development unfolding in Germany. Just moments ago, we learned that, 8 days ago, a German court single-handedly raised the bar for paradoxical workplace…stuff. In its landmark ruling, the Bundessozialgericht ruled that injuries sustained during an employee’s morning commute from his bed to his desk constitute a workplace injury because he – crucially – did NOT eat breakfast before falling down the stairs. Join us as we tackle the question on everyone’s mind (“huh?”) and come to terms with the fact that we’re officially a top 50 podcast.*

* In the business management category**
** In Saudi Arabia

Links to stuff mentioned in this episode:

00:12 – Fall on walk from bed to desk is workplace accident, German court rules

02:25 – Man gets $45K severance package after declaring job “too boring”(Busyness Paradox Episode #28: Boring Job Burnout)

Episode Transcript:

Frank Butler  0:08  
Hello, Busybodies. Frank and Paul here. 

Paul Harvey  0:10  
Good day. 

Frank Butler  0:11  
We’ve got some breaking news. In Germany, a federal court ruled that a fall on a walk from bed to desk is considered a workplace accident. Paul, what is this nonsense?

Paul Harvey  0:25  
Let’s just repeat that so it can sink in. A German court has ruled that someone falling on their way to their own desk in their own house is considered a workplace accident because he was…going to work. I don’t know how to feel about this, Frank. I don’t know. It’s absurd, but it’s perhaps the reality that we are going to be living with for a long time. Forever.

Frank Butler  0:47  
Now, granted, this is Germany. Buuuuuuut…

Paul Harvey  0:49  
Yeah, I – [new meeting attendee chime sounds] We have a drop in. So breaking is this news, a former guest has just dialed in.


Frank Butler  1:04  
Curt has just come in to weigh in again. 

Paul Harvey  1:10  
That was great

Frank Butler  1:12  
We’ll probably have to leave that in. 

Paul Harvey  1:13  
Yeah probably. 

Frank Butler  1:15  
Okay, so let’s discuss this really quickly. Because, again, this is Germany. It’s not the United States. But I could see this having the same ramifications for workman’s compensation here…workman’s…workers’ compensation here in the United States.

Paul Harvey  1:29  
That’s the thing. If I may apply some general, you know, unfair stereotyping. You don’t really expect to hear a story like this out of necessarily Germany, as much as maybe I don’t know, Italy or something like you say, oh, yeah, those crazy Italians. 

Frank Butler  1:44  
France, France, for sure. 

Paul Harvey  1:46  
As we know, in France, companies have been successfully sued for boring employees too much, for not giving them enough work to do. So it…certainly they should, you would think be allowed to sue a company for falling down the stairs on the way to your desk to sign in for work. But Germany? Yeah, if it happened in Germany can happen here.

Frank Butler  2:07  
So what has happened in this case, was the gentleman was leaving his bed and his home office was downstairs. It says one floor below his bedroom. And so what happened was that when he got up, he went down to his office without having breakfast, they noted this notion that he did not have breakfast on the way to his office. And as he was going, he fell and broke his back. 

Paul Harvey  2:34  
Which sucks

Frank Butler  2:35  
Which sucks. But basically, what that was saying is that he was commuting to work. If he had gone to get breakfast first and then gone to work. Apparently, that would have changed the decision. And that’s what’s interesting to me. I’m kind of a little unsure about how getting breakfast is…  

Paul Harvey  2:59  
It sounds to me like they’re following the letter of the law here. 

Frank Butler  3:03  

Paul Harvey  3:03  
I don’t know what the letter of the law actually is. But they seem to have concluded that the way that the rules are written, then…how did they phrase it? That…it says…in Germany, firms have a duty of care. Sorry.

Frank Butler  3:18  
Yeah, no, no, you’re good. They…just to kind of, what Paul was finding, it’s a statutory accident insurance that was being sued. They denied the claim initially, but they went to court and…what was it Paul?

Paul Harvey  3:30  
So this article that we’re referencing from The Guardian says, In many countries, which… by which I assume they mean, including Germany, firms have a duty of care to employees, regardless of where they work. 

Frank Butler  3:41  

Paul Harvey  3:42  
It’s difficult to understand how that extends to a place that the employee is choosing to work at. And the the employer has absolutely no control over any of it, as it should be. So I don’t know, I don’t know. You, like, speak German Frank, go study up on German Workers Compensation Law contracts. But yeah, I assume there’s something in the contracts with this insurance company that? Well, the German Federal Court said, if the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person, or at another location, insurance coverage is provided to the same extent as when activity is carried out in the company premises. So if that’s the wording of their rules, if that’s the wording of the contract they had with the insurer, then, you know, this is the letter of the law. I don’t imagine it was what was intended when these rules or contract language was put together, but

Frank Butler  4:38  
Well, thinking about it, too. You know, the legal system in Germany is a civil law system, right? So it uses codes, predominantly, and I’m sure there’s a code that talks about this sort of accident insurance, what’s required of this statutory accident insurance, and I would say it’s probably very similar, in a sense to workers comp. But the biggest difference, and you were saying it is that the letter of the law was probably saying it was happening on the commute from home to work. And so that commute between the bedroom and the office, which, you know, if you think about the United States, if you work from home, you get to deduct, from your taxes, your office space that you do your work from. That’s, I would say probably the same thing they get to do there. I can’t speak to that, officially. But I would think it’s not too dissimilar. In that sense, if you’re working from home, you get to take sort of a tax break as a result of that. Because you have a part of your home that’s not really for personal use, it’s for professional or work use. And so that motion from your bedroom to your office would qualify as you go to work. Yeah. And I could see based on the code base legal system has civil law law system, that they’re going to read that very, critically and clearly, and make the decision based on the code right in their literal interpretation. But for the most part, that’s probably where it is. Whereas in our system, that common law system, it’s probably got some gray area in there.

Paul Harvey  6:17  
And not a lot of precedent to rely on in a case like this. I wouldn’t imagine. 

Frank Butler  6:21  
I wouldn’t either. And I could see it going either way, in our system to now I don’t know if there are rules about you getting into an accident on the way to work here. I don’t recall anybody who gets injured on the way to work, and then they get some sort of accident insurance from that. Now, we do have like short term disability insurance and you know, long term disability insurance that you can get. I don’t think either of them are required, but sometimes works do 

Paul Harvey  6:44  

Frank Butler  6:45  
But I don’t know about workers comp

Paul Harvey  6:47  
But they often do come from your employer, though. So, you know, maybe we’re not that far removed after all from this system.

Frank Butler  6:55  
Right? Well, I know workers comp, typically is when you’re on the job, right? And something happens when you’re on the job. So does that include commuting? I don’t know. And something that if somebody else does know, please let us know. But I could see this being a case here, especially with private insurance, you know, if your company is providing it, that you could make the claim that your commute from your bedroom to your home office or your couch, if that’s what you’re designating as your home office could certainly be considered a workplace accident.

Paul Harvey  7:23  
In some ways. It’s how to maybe sort of sweet justice in some ways, you know, we talk a lot about work life balance, and how way before the pandemic started, you know, work through technology has been kind of invading the home life for a lot of folks, even if you’re just sitting on your couch, doing emails at nine o’clock at night or something. So there’s always kind of been not always but for a while now, especially since the COVID started, been a workplace presence in the home that hasn’t been totally acknowledged. I think it is sort of nice to see see that acknowledgement of you know, the home is increasingly also a workplace and was treated as such. Not that I have a hard time seeing this ending. Well, I can, I can imagine a lot of people throwing themselves down the stairs, or more likely just having random accidents and saying, oh, yeah, that happened this morning, when I was walking down to my desk. Pay me. Yeah, be interesting to see.

Frank Butler  8:17  
I could see this having an impact on on this individual’s ability to get their job done, because you broke your back that’s going to be relatively debilitating and painful. I don’t know if there’s the extent of the injuries. I don’t know if there’s paralysis or anything of that nature. I’m, I don’t see any mention of that in this article. But again, just from reading this title, we were just like, oh, my gosh, breaking news, we have to cover this, because this is certainly something that’s a shift in what would happen from going to the office and working to sort of our new reality of hybrid or even remote work. And here we are! 

Paul Harvey  8:54  
Here we are. New Reality, 

Frank Butler  8:56  
The new reality! Something to chew on a little bit that food for thought, if there’s anybody out there who’s a lawyer who knows somebody who works in unemployment law, or not employment law, rather, but like Injury Law, or anything like that, that would be able to weigh in. We’d love to talk to them and have a discussion. Like, share, subscribe to this podcast, share it to please. It’s really important to get it out in the message out. And we appreciate your support. Oh, and we are in the top 50 in Saudi Arabia, thank you.

Paul Harvey  9:27  
Today, Saudi Arabia tomorrow the world.

Frank Butler  9:29  
We’re getting there. We’re getting there. Number one podcast for business management. I’m making that up but in our hearts, in our hearts, and hopefully yours, too. Yes. Don’t fall on the way to your office.

Paul Harvey  9:42  
Hold the handrail, folks. Good day. 

Frank Butler  9:45  
[laughing] Good day. 

Paul Harvey  9:47  
The Busyness Paradox is distributed by Paul Harvey and Frank Butler. Our theme music is adapted from its business time by Jemaine Clements and Brett McKenzie. Our production manager is Justin Wuntaek. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we’d love to hear from you. Please send any questions, comments or ideas for future episode topics to input@busynessparadox.com. Or find us on Twitter. Also, be sure to visit our website, busynessparadox.com to read our blog posts and for links to the articles and other resources mentioned in today’s show. Finally, please take a moment to rate and follow or subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google podcasts or wherever the heck you get your podcasts

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