In dealing with occupational health matters, employers are bound by a large number of obligations, including:
The employer’s ‘responsibility’ in the broad sense is historically at the origin of the law of safety and health at work. The employer is responsible for paying the corresponding insurance and taking all necessary measures if something happens to an employee.
Unfortunately, this corporate responsibility can be misunderstood: what happens to an employee in the workplace will not always be considered a labour accident. This will depend on several matters such as:
Below are two examples.
Employers’ responsibility for anything that happens to an employee in the workplace and during work hours
In one case, an employee suffered an adverse event, but this was not considered to be a labour accident, so no liability was established against the employer, The Court stated that when compensation for damages is claimed, there are four cumulative conditions to determine contractual liability:
These criteria are important because they correct incorrect criteria set out in another case (see below).
Employers’ responsibility for labour accidents that happen to employees.
Another example where there is a risk of confusion is illustrated by recent decisions: an employee dies of a heart attack at work or in a fight with a co-worker or breaks a bone while drunk at the office party. Does this death or injury constitute a workplace accident? A judgment held that it did, based on the following reasoning.
An accident at work, the occurrence of which is demonstrated by damage suffered by the worker, must be attributed to a breach of the employer’s duty of prevention. This fact generates an obligation for the employer to pay the victim or his beneficiaries compensation (Cassation N° 4258-2016-LIMA).
As described above, this decision has not been followed by most Courts, because not all things that happen to employees during working hours are going to be labour accidents.
There are two lessons to be drawn from these decisions: