Are Employers Liable for Corona in the Workplace?

If you are injured as a result of an accident at work, the employer is often liable for your personal injury. We call this employer liability. But what if there is a corona infection at work, is there also employer liability? In other words, can you hold the employer liable for personal injury? Our personal injury lawyer in Utrecht explains.

What is Employer Liability

Employer’s liability is regulated by law in Article 7:658 of the Dutch Civil Code. This article states that the employer must ensure a safe workplace. One could say that with regard to the corona virus, this means that the employer must take measures in the workplace to prevent corona contamination as much as possible.

The employer can comply with the aforementioned duty of care by, for example, handing out face masks, making it mandatory that hands are washed frequently, providing disinfectants and placing screens between the desks and in the consultation room. If the employer does not take these measures, he could be liable for the personal injury of his employees!

The dangers of a corona infection are well known. Employers can therefore not hide by stating that they did not know that the corona virus existed or what the dangers of it were. A comparison can be made with the various jurisprudence regarding asbestos cases. In these personal injury cases, employers also often argue that they did not know and/or should not have known about the dangers of asbestos.

Hold employer liable for corona contamination?

The major problem with employers’ liability due to a corona infection is that, under the law, the employee, as a personal injury victim, must demonstrate that he has suffered an industrial accident while at work. A personal injury lawyer in The Hague can help you with this.

If you want to successfully hold the employer liable for personal injury due to a corona infection, the employee will have to prove that the infection happened to him during work. In other words, the burden of proof of the employer’s fault rests with the employee. And now precisely here a problem arises! After all, a corona infection can be contracted anywhere, at work, but also within the family, through a visit to the supermarket or during a family visit.

If we compare the situation surrounding the coronavirus with that of asbestos cases, employers often defended themselves in asbestos cases that the lung disease could also be the result of long-term smoking. In other words, there is a problem with the causal relationship between the contamination and the work!

Because the employee must prove that the infection with the coronavirus happened during work, now that a corona infection can be contracted anywhere, employer’s liability cannot be assumed quickly.

Is the employer liable or not liable for a corona infection?

This question is difficult to answer. Is an employer not complying with his duty of care because he does not take measures against a corona infection? In that case, he is personally liable for the damage that an employee suffers as a result. The problem, however, lies in the burden of proof now that the employee must prove that he has become infected at work. Perhaps proportional liability can offer the employee a helping hand here!

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