The interpretation of occupational accidents in work-related trips
Over the last few years, the view held by the majority of the courts and tribunals in relation to so-called accidents “on assignment” has been flexible, in the sense of classifying them as a specific type of occupational accident. Thus, based on the fact that the worker travels in order to perform an activity following the instructions of the company, his/her employment activities were deemed to extend to the entire time the worker was on the work-related trip.
The majority of the high courts, and on several occasions now, the Supreme Court, have accepted this flexible interpretation in various different cases, such as, for example, that of an employee who had a heart attack during the flight, or drivers who had a heart attack while sleeping during a break on route, or while having a cup of coffee in a break at a service station. There was also another case in which a bus driver of a tourist route had a heart attack abroad in the hotel he was staying at.
However, in a recent decision on February 11, 2014, the Supreme Court, on the exact same lines as the decision handed down by the same Court on October 8, 2009, ruled against the view that the entire time that the employee is on assignment, even when not providing services, during rest periods or while carrying out private activities, he is deemed to be at the workplace. All on the basis that not everything that occurs on assignment is necessarily work-related.
Specifically, the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court analyses whether or not the case of a worker who had a stroke in his hotel bedroom in Tel Aviv, where he had gone for a week to perform work for the company, was an accident on assignment and ruled that it was not an occupational accident.
In short, the break with the above-mentioned flexible interpretation is extremely relevant since, from now on, if an accident occurs on assignment, it will be necessary to evidence that it was work-related in order to be classified as an occupational accident.
Garrigues Labor and Employment Department