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Exceptions To The Coming and Going Rule To Be Aware of During the Holiday Season and Year Round

November 17, 2021
December 19, 2019

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:

  • The burden of the trip (time/length) in light of the employee’s employment duties;
  • The irregularity and suddenness of the request;
  • The nature of the request;
  • Whether the task requested took place during regular working hours or after regular working hours; and
  • Any other unusual circumstances.

Situations in which the Judges of Compensation Claims have awarded benefits to employees associated with vacation time, or demanding times, include the following:

  • Benefits awarded to a banquet waitress injured on her way home from a mandatory staff meeting called by her employer that took place prior to a shift she would be working for the employer later that day. 
  • Benefits awarded to an employee that had returned to work early from vacation due to a request from his employer.  The employee was allowed to keep a doctor’s appointment he had scheduled for the day he returned to work and was injured on his way back to the employer’s premises from the appointment. 
  • Benefits awarded to an on-call nurse who was returning a phone that her employer arranged for her to use to monitor patient calls for prescription renewals, while the office was closed and she was on vacation. 

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.