Of interest.

Extent of employer’s liability in dealing with industrial injuries

In addition to its undeniable advantages, the employment of persons also brings with it negative consequences, one of which is the employer’s liability arising in connection with work accidents of employees. If an employee is injured at work, the employer is obliged to follow the procedures laid down by law and at the same time compensate the employee accordingly. In this article you can find out what the legal procedures are, or whether the employer is actually obliged to compensate for damages or non-pecuniary loss in all circumstances.

Work accident – a precondition for liability

In order for an employer to be liable for a work accident, it must actually be an accident at work in the first place. The answer to what is meant by this term is to be found in Section 271k of Act No. 262/2006 Coll., the Labour Code, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the “Labour Code”), which defines a work accident as “an injury to the health or death of an employee, if it is caused independently of the employee’s will by a short-term, sudden and violent external influence”. At the same time, however, the condition that the accident in question must have occurred in the performance of a work task or in direct connection therewith must be met. Typically, the accident may be sustained while the employee is simply walking around the workplace or changing into his or her work clothes, even if it is outside the employee’s working hours. A work-related accident may also occur “in the course of performing a work task”, an example being the commission of a physical assault on an employee caused by his or her prior conduct, again regardless of when exactly the assault in question occurred.

The Labour Code provides for other specific cases on the basis of which the employer is liable for damage caused by work-related accidents, in particular cases of work-related accidents to members of the municipality’s volunteer fire brigades and mining rescue services, or to natural persons who, under predefined conditions, assisted, whether in responding to an emergency, in removing its consequences or in improving the municipality.

There is also a great number of case law extending the above wording of the law to other situations in which a work accident may occur. In this context, reference may be made, inter alia, to the decision of the Supreme Court of 12 February 2009, Case No. 21 Cdo 5060/2007, in which the court concluded that an accident that occurred during an event organized by the employer, such as a teambuilding event, the purpose of which is mainly to build and develop the work potential of employees and is therefore closely linked to the performance of work tasks, may also constitute a work accident.

On the other hand, a work accident will not be a work accident if it occurs on the way to or from work or during a business trip, provided that the employee was not working at the time in question. This could be the case, for example, if the employee had previously inspected the place of work for the forthcoming day.

Nature of the employer’s liability

The employer’s liability for harm caused by a work accident is by its nature an objective liability, and therefore, if the above-mentioned prerequisites for the occurrence of a work accident have been met, the employer is liable for all damage, regardless of its own fault. Thus, the employer is liable even if it has complied with all its obligations under the law and other regulations on workplace health and safety (hereinafter referred to as “BOZP”).

Employers should therefore, given the nature of this liability, be genuinely vigilant and take precautions to minimize the potential risk of any accidents in the workplace. One such measure is the statutory obligation for employers to take out liability insurance, which covers employees for damages arising from, among other things, work accidents.

Specific duties of the employer in dealing with a work accident

In the event of a work accident, the employer is obliged, after the employee has duly reported it[1], to comply with the statutory procedure for its subsequent resolution, which entails in particular the following obligations set out in Section 105 of the Labour Code.

1) duty to investigate

First of all, the employer is obliged to clarify the causes and circumstances of the work accident that happened to the employee at the workplace. In such an investigation, the employer should focus in particular on cooperating with the injured employee, as only he or she can provide the most reliable information about what actually happened. Provided, of course, that this is possible in view of the employee’s medical condition. At the same time, the employer should also interview any witnesses to the incident and invite the trade union (if any) or the BOZP representative to the investigation.

The employer is also obliged to ensure that the place of the work accident remains unchanged throughout the investigation unless there are compelling reasons for such a change. Such a reason may include, in particular, a situation where a change would be necessary in order to prevent further harm.

2) record-keeping obligation

The employer is obliged to record work accidents in the accident book and thus record all accidents, including those in which the employee was not incapacitated, or it was clear from the outset that the accident could not be classified as an accident at work. The accident book may be kept in both electronic and paper form and should contain the information specified in Government Regulation No 201/2010 Coll. on the method of recording, reporting and sending accident records. This is another legal regulation to which the employer should pay due attention, in addition to the Labour Code, in order to comply with all the obligations laid down in these regulations and to avoid, in particular, the threat of sanctions from the labour inspectorate. According to Article 2(1) of the Regulation, the accident book should contain, in particular, the details of the injured worker, the identification of the accident (time and place of the accident, its type, source, etc.), as well as the number of injured persons or the names of witnesses.

If a work accident occurs that incapacitates an employee for more than 3 calendar days or even results in his death, the employer is obliged to make a record of such a work accident within 5 working days of becoming aware of it. This record should include, in particular, information about the employer, the affected employee, and the accident, as well as statements from any witnesses.

The employer is obliged to provide a copy of the accident record to the employee on request at any time, and if the accident caused death, the family members of the deceased are also entitled to a copy. The employer is also obliged to send the record to the relevant public health insurance company of the employee, and, depending on the nature of the work accident, to other authorities and institutions (e.g. the regional labour inspectorate or the relevant department of the Police).

3) reporting obligation

The employer’s obligation to send the record must be distinguished from the reporting obligation as one of the other obligations that the employer has towards the competent authorities and institutions. In the first place, the employer is obliged to report the occurrence of the damage event (as well as other mandatory data provided for in Section 8 of Decree of the Ministry of Finance No. 125/1993 Coll., which establishes the conditions and rates of statutory insurance of the organisation’s liability for damage in the event of a work accident or occupational disease) to its contractual insurance company. Depending on the nature of the work accident, the employer may also be obliged to notify other entities, e.g. the competent territorial unit of the Police of the Czech Republic if a criminal offence has been committed in connection with the work accident, or the competent regional labour inspectorate if the accident occurred at a natural or legal person subject to its control, and if the hospitalization of the injured employee lasts for at least 5 days or if such duration can be assumed with regard to the employee’s health condition.

The manner in which the notification is made is left to the discretion of the employer. In any event, the employer should choose a method whereby it can be demonstrated, if necessary, that this obligation has been properly fulfilled.

Failure to comply with any of the above obligations exposes the employer to the risk of being fined by the State Labour Inspection Authority up to CZK 400,000. In certain cases, in the case of failure to carry out a proper examination or to prepare a record of a work accident, the fine may be as high as CZK 1,000,000.

4) obligation to take preventive measures

In addition to the above-mentioned obligations relating to the treatment of a specific work accident, the Labour Code also imposes an obligation on the employer to take subsequent measures to prevent the recurrence of a work accident. In this respect, the employer should focus in particular on the results of the investigation carried out, since it is the identified causes of the work accident that will enable him to determine appropriate preventive measures to effectively prevent or at least eliminate the recurrence of such a work accident.

The adoption of preventive measures should not be underestimated by employers, not only in view of their undeniable benefits but also in view of the threat of penalties which may amount to up to CZK 2,000,000.

Relief from the employer’s obligation to compensate for a work accident

In addition to the obligations set out in Section 105 of the Labour Code, the employer is obliged to compensate the employee for damages and non-pecuniary harm that occurred in connection with the work accident. The employee may claim from the employer, in particular, compensation for loss of earnings, compensation for pain and difficulty in social exercise, reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred in connection with medical treatment, as well as other compensation granted by the Labour Code. However, it cannot be ruled out that in practice the employee will also claim other compensation not provided for by the Labour Code, consisting in particular in a claim for compensation for other non-pecuniary damage.

However, the employer may not always be automatically obliged to compensate for the damage or non-pecuniary injury, as the Labour Code provides for cases allowing the employer to waive this obligation, in whole or in part. A full waiver will be granted if it is proven that the employee has violated the regulations or instructions relating to BOZP, provided that the employee was duly acquainted with such regulations or BOZP instructions, and that at the same time their knowledge, and in particular compliance with them, was regularly checked by the employer.

A further case of complete exemption arises in a situation where the damage or non-pecuniary damage was caused by the employee as a result of drunkenness or substance abuse and therefore it was not within the employer’s power to prevent such damage or non-pecuniary damage.

The employer is then partially exonerated if the above-mentioned facts are only one of several causes of the situation in question and there is another fact which is not the fault of the employee and cannot be attributed to him. The same will be true in the case of reckless conduct by an employee who, however, must have been aware, in view of his qualifications and experience, that he might cause injury to himself. However, ordinary carelessness or conduct arising from the risk of work cannot be regarded as reckless conduct.


The occurrence of work accidents at the employer’s workplace entails not only a number of obligations but also significant financial penalties for any failure to comply with them. Not only for these reasons, but it should also be in the employer’s interest to try to prevent or at least eliminate the occurrence of work accidents. In this respect, employers may be advised to focus on preventive measures, in particular regular and sufficient training of employees in BOZP and subsequent monitoring of compliance with the relevant regulations.


[1] The employee also has certain obligations in connection with the occurrence of a work accident, in particular the obligation to notify the employer without delay pursuant to Section 106(4)(h) of the Labour Code, which also entails negative consequences in the event of non-compliance. However, in view of the topic of this article, this issue is not given further attention.


Mgr. Kateřina Lansdorfová, junior attorney – lansdorfova@plegal.cz

Mgr. Jakub Málek, managing partner – malek@plegal.cz




02. 03. 2023