What happens when you are hurt while on a break required by your employer?
Workers’ compensation is set up to protect you when you are hurt at work, but there are also laws in place to protect Missouri employees in other ways. For example, your employer must allow for you to take a certain number of breaks throughout your workday. What happens when you are hurt while on one of these breaks?
How Breaks Are Structured During the Work Day
Before taking it for granted that you are not allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim, speak with a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney. Depending on how the breaks are structured, your injury may be covered by the employer’s insurance. Depending on your employer, you may be required to clock out every time you take a break, or you may be trusted to take 5 or 10 minutes during the day without any type of record. There are also longer meal breaks that an employer must provide. How this is monitored by your employer makes a difference in whether or not you can be compensated for an injury if you are hurt while taking one of these breaks.
Each Circumstance Is Different
Every circumstance is different, which is why you should discuss the details with a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney before making any decisions about filing a claim. Generally, if you are clocked out and off of the premises when injured, a workers’ compensation claim will not be honored. However, there are certain prevailing circumstances that may still allow you to file a claim with your employer. The same is true for a quick break to go outside and smoke. While an employer may argue that you were off the clock and off the premises at the time, if they have a set a designated area outside of the building for employees to smoke, then your injury may still be covered.
Case Study – Injured While On a Smoke Break
This type of scenario was recently argued in front of the Missouri Labor Board between an employer and the injured employee who had slipped on ice in their parking lot. The dispute arose because the employee was outside to smoke a cigarette. Since the employer had a designated area outside to allow for smoking and had complete control over the condition of the parking lot, the labor board determined that they were still responsible for the causation of the injury and ordered them to pay the compensation. This included the cost of medical care plus a weekly payment for the weeks of work that were missed. There have been other similar cases heard in Missouri with varying results. The exact circumstances of your accident will need to be looked over by a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney to determine if you have a valid claim.
Before accepting a decision from your employer regarding your work-related injury, speak with a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney. You have the right to appeal their decision and have your case heard by the Missouri Labor Board. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.