Q. Some of our employees leave the premises during their 10-minute breaks during the day. If they get into accidents, is the company at risk? — G.F., Colorado
A. Generally, accidents that occur on the job and at the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. But there’s no standard rule regarding workers’ comp coverage for employees injured off the premises during an approved, paid break. Courts have gone both ways on the issue, and we aren’t aware of any relevant Colorado cases.
To decide whether employees are eligible for workers’ comp in such cases, courts will consider different variables. Foremost, it will look at whether the breaks are a right fixed by the employment contract, whether the breaks are paid time and whether the company put restrictions on where the employee could go during the breaks.
Some courts have said that if an employee is injured off premises during an approved break, then the employee is entitled to workers’ comp if the break is compensated.
However, other courts have refused to expand workers’ comp to injuries suffered off premises during breaks if the employer had no control over the particular hazards.
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