New case law from the Bulgarian Supreme Court of Cassation regarding Regulation (EU) No 349/2011, and work accidents on the journey between home and the workplace.
Addressing a question concerning the definition of work-related road accidents, the Bulgarian Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that employment-related road accidents as defined by the Bulgarian Social Security Code is upheld, and does not contravene EU law.
Specifically, the court reviewed the definition of work-related accidents in Article 1 of Regulation (EU) No 349/2011 of 11 April 2011 to determine whether it applies to or supersedes articles in the Bulgarian Social Security code.
This EU regulation defines an accident at work as a distinct occurrence in the course of work, which does include the trip to and from work. Article 55 of the Bulgarian Social Security Code, however, states that a labour accident is not only an accident taking place during working hours (including traffic accidents), but also an accident between home and work.
In reviewing this apparent disparity between Bulgarian and EU law in the definition of a work-related accident, the Bulgarian Supreme Court made the following ruling:
Regulation (EU) No 349/2011 was adopted to correct a 2008 regulation on health and safety in the workplace, specifically on measures to improve public health vis-a-vis occupational accidents. [See Regulation (EC) No 1338/2008.]
The interpretation of the two regulations leads to the conclusion that the matter being settled is occupational accidents in the workplace, and measures to improve public health, and health and safety at work. This leads to the conclusion that the regulation does not cover work-related accidents occurring during an employee’s journey between home and the workplace. The court found it unfortunate that the definition of a work accident applies solely to that regulation, since its purpose is obviously not to rule out as an occupational nature any accident occurring on the journey to and from work, which is the explicit sense of the applicable Bulgarian law (Article 55, paragraph 2 of the Bulgarian Social Security Code).
Regulation (EC) No 349/2011 protects employee health, ensures health and safety at work, and prevents workplace accidents. The purpose of the regulation is to define occupational accidents during work and to ensure healthy and safe working conditions. The Regulation does not cover work accidents occurring between home and work because its objective is workplace safety. This does not mean, however, that the EU regulation explicitly excludes the definition of a work accident as found in Article 55 of the Bulgarian Social Security Code.
In view of this, the court ruled that EU Regulation 349/2011 does not apply to the definition of work accidents as recognized by Bulgarian law, and that any traffic accident sustained by an employee to or from a workplace shall be considered work-related.