New working environment rules in Denmark for employees who work at home have taken effect, with the requirements for the layout of home offices where a screen is used now applying only when employees work at home for at least more than two days a week.
When the conditions of such remote work are met, the employer must, among other things, ensure that employees have the necessary furniture and equipment made available to them. For example, the employee must have a table and chair that can be adjusted, enabling appropriate working positions. Suitable lighting and an adjustable screen that is separate from the keyboard are also required.
A new rule also takes into account employees who work at different workplaces. If an employee uses a screen more than two days a week but not more than two days at any single workplace, their home office must comply with the above rules, unless their employer provides a suitable workstation at one of the other workplaces.
In connection with these changes, the Working Environment Authority has published a new guide on remote work and updated its guide on working at computer screens.
Occupational Accidents at the Home Workplace
When employees work at home, accidents can occur, just like in a normal workplace. However, such situations are not typically classified as occupational injuries. The boundary between private and work life is more fluid when work is carried out from home, which is why it can be more difficult to determine whether there has been an occupational accident that would be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
On the basis of four fundamental decisions, the Social Appeals Board has issued a statement of principles establishing how far the employer’s liability extends in connection with injuries incurred during or in connection with remote work.
According to the Social Appeals Board, a specific assessment of the incident must be made. This assessment starts by establishing whether the actions that led to the injury were connected to the work in a necessary or natural way. In such cases, the burden is on the injured party to prove a causal connection between the accident and the work.
In the first case, an employee sustained an injury after falling down during a walk while working at home.
In the second case, an employee had gone out into their garden after a virtual meeting to think. When going back inside to call a colleague, the employee fell and sustained an injury. In both cases, the Social Appeals Board ruled that the injured parties were not covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act, as the activity in question did not have a necessary or natural connection to the work.
The third case concerned an employee working from home who fell up two steps and sustained an injury on the way to the bathroom. The Social Appeals Board found that the employee’s activities were connected to their work, as no personal circumstances had been described in the case to justify the bathroom visit. As a result, it was an occupational injury covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Similarly, in the fourth case, an employee had set up a home office in their basement while their bathroom and kitchen facilities were on the ground floor. The employee suffered an injury by falling on their way upstairs, which was also considered an occupational injury.
Employers must be aware that regular overtime, weekend work and workdays of varying length can affect whether an employee is considered to be working from home for more than two days a week on average and, therefore, whether the requirements for working at a screen apply.
The Social Appeals Board’s statement of principles has established that when an employee is injured while working from home, the presumption that the injury is due to work, which generally applies when an employee is injured at the workplace, does not apply. An employee who is injured while working from home must, therefore, prove a causal connection between the accident and their work for it to be considered an occupational injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Yvonne Frederiksen is an attorney with Norrbom Vinding in Copenhagen, Denmark. © 2022 Norrbom Vinding. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.