An injury during company sporting (teambuilding) events cannot be considered an accident at work?

26. 6. 2023

An injury at a company sporting event does not always have to be a work-related injury. Therefore, employers are not always liable for the negative consequences of a potential (work-related) injury. This conclusion was reached a few months ago in a decision of a German court, which followed its similarly worded conclusion.

In order to constitute an accident at work, it would have to have occurred either at a company social event or during a company sport. In its decision, the Court in Berlin dealt, among other things, with the various characteristics that a company event or company sport should have in order to constitute an accident at work. One of the key features is the regularity and compensatory purpose of the health promotion of such events. In the opinion of the Land Social Court in Berlin, the promotion of social cohesion that should be observed from such events should also be evident from the holding of such events. Another characteristic is, inter alia, whether participation in the event is voluntary for the employees and how many employees find the event interesting and attractive. The court also took into account whether the employer itself was the organizer of the event and whether employees of another employer might also participate.

Whether it is an accident at a company football match or a roller-skating race organized by the employer, it is always appropriate to assess the individual circumstances of the case and to compare whether the event itself has all the characteristics that the German Court considers it should have. It should also be borne in mind that this list is merely demonstrative and that it is therefore not always possible to determine with certainty in advance whether a company event and a possible work-related accident are involved.

Under Czech law, the employer is obliged to compensate its employee for damage or non-pecuniary injury caused by an accident at work if the damage occurred during the performance of work tasks. The necessary prerequisite is therefore a causal link between the occurrence of damage or injury and the performance of work tasks, and in the opinion of the Czech Supreme Court, for example, in the case of team-building events, the formal description of the event is not taken into account, but the actual content of the activity in which the employee suffered the injury, while the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic further defined team-building as an activity that pursues the intensive and deliberate building and development of the working potential of the team. Like the German courts, the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic also worked with other relevant criteria, such as whether the participation in the corporate event in question is voluntary and whether the event is held during working hours.

It can therefore be concluded that both German and Czech courts take a similar approach to dealing with work-related injuries at company sporting (team building) events and not every event offered by an employer leads to the employer's liability for a work-related accident.

 

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