As we head into the busy holiday season, employers may be faced with having to request uncommon tasks of their employees in order to meet high demands associated with this time of year. If these tasks occur while traveling to or from work, what consequences, if any, could this have for an employer under the coming and going rule?
Pursuant to 440.092(2), an injury suffered while going to or coming from work is not an injury arising out of and in the course of employment, unless the employee was engaged in a special errand or mission for the Employer. Judges of Compensation Claims look at several factors in determining whether a special errand exception applies. Factors considered by the Judges of Compensation Claims include, but are not limited to, the following:
Situations in which the Judges of Compensation Claims have awarded benefits to employees associated with vacation time, or demanding times, include the following:
The Judges of Compensation Claims look at the specifics of each case before awarding benefits. While cases may seem similar, one variance can impact the ruling in the case. Nonetheless, while the examples included above are only a small fragment of cases where the Judges of Compensation Claims awarded benefits, they serve to illustrate the point that sometimes during busy time periods, employers may be exposed to liability which they would not otherwise be exposed to if they ask their employees to perform tasks that are out of the ordinary. During the holiday season, employers should be cognizant of any changes or requests made of their employees outside of their regular job duties, especially the risks that are present while traveling to and from, as injuries sustained during these instances could fall into an exception to the coming and going rule and expose employers to liability.