Minister: Pay for your own Christmas party mishaps

Mette Frederiksen wants to change employment laws so that accidents at the office ‘julefrokost’ don’t have to be covered by the employer’s insurance

Injuries sustained from doing back flips off tables, slide-tackling the boss or other schnapps-induced shenanigans during the traditional Christmas work parties, julefrokosts, are usually covered by the employer’s insurance.

But that could change soon after the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (S), said that she did not find it reasonable that injuries sustained at a julefrokost are classified as work related.

“Not to ruin the Christmas cheer, but the work-related injury system is set up for people who have been injured while working, not while attending a julefrokost,” Frederiksen told HK/Privat union newsletter. 

Frederiksen has asked the national board of industrial injuries, Arbejdsskadestyrelsen, to draw up a proposal that will lead to a law change.

“Next time we amend the work-related injury law, a new and more precise proposal concerning injuries sustained during julefrokosts will be included,” Frederiksen said.

READ MORE: The art of the office Christmas party: Boozy fun or occupational mine field?

Pressured to attend
But June Halvoren, an consultant with HK/Privat, is sceptical about Frederiksen’s plan, arguing that julefrokosts are not always leisure time for employees.

“Often, there are expectations that employees should attend julefrokosts and other work-related social events,” Halvorsen said. “Sometimes directly, sometimes implied. If employees take part because they, to some degree, feel like they must, then it’s not reasonable to exempt employers from responsibility.”

A recent survey compiled for Newspaq by the analysis institute Wilke showed that more than half of the employees surveyed said that they attend work-related social events because they feel that they have to.

READ MORE: Living in an expat world | Christmas ‘hygge’ and hysteria

Being drunk is okay
Arbejdsskadestyrelsen currently has a number of conditions in place regarding the reporting of a work-related injury sustained during a julefrokost. Alcohol, surprisingly, does not play much of a role.

“How intoxicated the person is does not really matter that much, nor does it matter if the party is being held in the office or somewhere else,” Arbejdsskadestyrelsen writes. “What’s important is that the person is injured doing something that is normal at a julefrokost, such as dancing.”

Employees are covered by the work-related injury rules for as long as the party is scheduled, but if you move on and continue the festivities elsewhere in town, the coverage ends. There is also no coverage if the injuries were sustained during a fight.