Injured Worker Not in Scope and Course of Employment When on Break

To obtain workers’ compensation benefits in PA, the worker must be injured while in the scope and course of his or her employment. Fortunately, PA law does not require that a worker be chained to his or her desk, or work area, the entire day. Pennsylvania law recognizes that “small temporary departures” from work do not remove an employee from being in the scope and course of his or her employment. The degree of latitude given also varies depending on whether one is a “stationary” as opposed to a “traveling” employee.

Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decided Department of Labor & Industry v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Savani), finding a stationary employee not in the scope and course of her employment when she fell and suffered a fractured arm while off the employer’s property on a paid break. The Court found that being off the employer’s property for personal reasons, even though on a paid break, was not “a small temporary departure from work” or an “inconsequential or innocent departure from work.”

These types of cases vary greatly, depending on the facts in each situation. This is why it is important to have your case reviewed by an experienced PA workers’ comp attorney.