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Only in France: work accident on the dancefloor!

Samba, foxtrot, break dance and moonwalk: dancing in a nightclub can be a risky activity. Be it for the employee who is on a mission in a foreign country, or for the employer who will have to declare a work related accident if his employee hurts himself.

This is what the French Supreme Court has ruled concerning an employee on a mission in China. In a nightclub at 3 o’clock in the morning, he slipped, fell, and hurt his hand. The French healthcare insurance office covered the accident as a professional accident (incurring additional costs for the employer). The Employer protested, claiming that the accident occurred in a time and a place that had nothing to do with the mission. Therefore, the mission was interrupted.

However, the Court of Appeals stated that this was not enough to prove that the presence of the employee in the nightclub resulted from a personal motive of the employee. Indeed, he could have been present at the nightclub to accompany a client or an associate, or because of an invitation in the framework of his mission.

Consequently, the accident that arises while the employee is on a mission accomplished for his employer is presumed work related. The employee can benefit from the protection against work related accidents, no distinction being made between the accidents occurring during work related business or acts of everyday life.

The employer can prove that the accident happened while the employee had suspended the execution of his mission for a personal reason. But evidently, to simply indicate that being in a nightclub at 3 in the morning has nothing to do with the mission is not enough to prove the absence of relation with the professional activity.

You can order your employees to stop doing arabesques to impress the client.

Cour de cassation, 2e Chambre civile, 12 octobre 2017, 16-22.481