Talking German


The German language is full of surprises. And while the phrase “meine kleine Pinkelpause” may sound cute, you probably might want to consider using another form of endearment for your sweetheart given that Pinkelpause is in fact German for “toilet break”.

For one German employee however, what should have been a straightforward “Pinkelpause” ended up in a visit to the local hospital, and subsequently a German court.

A mechanic from Heilbronn, a city on the Neckar River in southwest Germany, had sued over a visit to the restroom at his place of work last January. When he went to wash his hands, he slipped on the wet and soap-covered floor.

He continued working until the end of his shift, after which he went to the hospital where he was diagnosed as having sustained a neck bruise and concussion. The mechanic took the view that this should being recognized as an accident at work. In his opinion, the toilet area was responsibility of his employer.

However, Heilbronn Social Court did not recognize the fall on the toilet as a work place accident. The Court held that the way to and from the restroom is insured, but not the act of occupying and using the restroom itself.

Accrording to SWR the Court gave the following verdict, “Die Verrichtung der Notdurft selbst diene […] eigenen Interessen; es handele es sich hierbei um eine eigenwirtschaftliche (= private, nicht unfallversicherte) Tätigkeit.” or literally: “The performance of the need itself serves its own interests, it was a self-economic (thereby a private, not accident-insured) activity.”

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