Employees are usually covered by the workers’ compensation system for any injury that occurs as a result of their employment. However, injuries during breaks are one of the most common topics of contention in workers’ compensation law.
Although Florida workers’ compensation laws prohibit employees from collecting benefits if they're injured on a lunch break, there are a few situations where employees may still be entitled
to receive assistance.
When Do Break-Time Accidents Qualify for Workers' Compensation?
Any accident that occurs “in the course and scope of employment” should be covered under the workers’ compensation system. As a result, unpaid lunch periods that happen away from work premises aren't in the course and scope of the employment, and are usually not covered.
However, accidents on lunch breaks may be compensable if:
- They occurred on a rest break. If an employee was eating on a rest break, many of the provisions that exclude lunch breaks don't apply. For instance, imagine that an employee suffers a slip and fall at work while having a snack on a 10-minute break. The length of the break requires the employee to stay on (or reasonably near) the work premises—meaning the employee is under the control of the employer and the injury should be covered.
- The employee was on the employer’s premises. Any instance where the injury occurred on the employer’s premises could be covered by worker’s compensation. These injuries are often contested, such as when an employee is injured in a stock room or parking lot, and may require the assistance of an attorney.
- The accident occurred during the request of an employer. Any activity that was performed with an employer’s control or authority over the employee should qualify for coverage. Instances can include transporting a lunch delivery from a dock to a conference room, or picking up food while running a separate errand for the boss.
- The incident occurred during a working lunch. The lunch rule doesn't apply if the employee was conducting work business while on the break, such as attending a meeting where food is provided, attending an outdoor picnic, or eating lunch provided by the employer to reward workers.
If you were injured on lunch break, the attorneys at Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. can listen to the details of your case and investigate the connection between your injury and your employment. Contact us today by filling out the quick contact form on this page, or order your free copy of our book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp, to learn more about your employee rights.