Today, Aarhus University is engaged in many outreach-related activities, ranging from internships (lower and upper secondary school students), the Rolling University, shows and visits from companies or individuals. As part of these activities, representatives from Aarhus University (AU) either go out and give lectures, demonstrate experiments, let the audience perform experiments etc., or open the university’s doors to let visitors take part in teaching activities, see the laboratories, follow the work in a research group and the like.
Common to all these activities is that they entail a number of questions and concerns as to what happens in case of an accident where a person is injured or laboratory equipment or other facilities are damaged. Who is responsible, and who will bear the financial risk?
The state is self-insured, which means that state institutions, including AU, must not take out insurance, but are regarded as having taken out insurance. Consequently, AU will have to pay for any damage for which the university may be found to be liable, and therefore acts as its own insurance company. AU is, thus, both employer and insurance company. This follows from the Self-Insurance Circular CIR no. 9783 of 9 December 2005 (Selvforsikringscirkulæret).
The reasoning is that this arrangement is, in many cases, cheaper than if the state and state institutions took out insurance through a commercial insurance company.
In specific exceptional cases, AU may take out insurance, for example:
Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act (Arbejdsskadesikringsloven) (ASL)
With regard to work-related injuries, AU is bound by the rules set out in the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act, regardless of the fact that no insurance has been taken out, see section 48(4), read with section 50, of the act. Under the Self-Insurance Circular, Aarhus University must cover such injuries.
The Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act sets out the injuries for which an employer is liable to employees. As AU cannot take out insurance, the university is liable in accordance with the provisions of the act. For this reason, the decisive factor is whether a person is covered by the act (see below). Persons not covered by the act must take out full-time accident insurance.
Consolidated Working Environment Act (Arbejdsmiljøloven) (AML)
The act lays down minimum criteria for the safety and health rules employers must comply with in relation to employees. This applies, in particular, to the performance of the work, design and fitting-out of the workplace, technical equipment etc. and the handling of substances and materials.
An occupational health and safety organisation must be set up to ensure collaboration between employees and employers. In addition, the employer must ensure that a written workplace assessment of the safety and health conditions at the workplace is prepared and that there is effective supervision to ensure that work is performed safely and without risks to health.
The Danish Working Environment Authority is responsible for assessing whether an injury is an industrial injury within the meaning of the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act.
All employees are covered by both the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act and the Consolidated Working Environment Act. For this reason, it is important to define when a person is considered an employee.
According to the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act, the following persons are protected:
Persons who are engaged by an employer to carry out work in Denmark on the following conditions:
AU has powers of direction in respect of the person in question. This means that AU is free to determine the nature and scope of the work, as well as the time and place of the work.
The work may be both paid and unpaid.
Persons who are employed to carry out work in Denmark, but who go on official trips of a short or long duration are covered by the Consolidated Workers' Compensation Act (Arbejdsskadesikringsloven) during their stay abroad. What is important is that the employee has performed work in Denmark, and that the plan is for the employee to return to Denmark to work again.
Students are generally not covered by the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act. In cases where a student performs an assignment for the university (works in the university’s interest and under direction), any injury sustained during this work, may be considered an industrial injury.
The University Act extends authority for the university to take out insurance for students, but for financial reasons the management has decided not to do so. For this reason, it is recommended that all students take out private full-time liability and accident insurance.
A distinction is made between whether a PhD student is employed or enrolled without being an employee (for example, in the first part of the 4+4 scheme).
The Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act covers employees who are employed to carry out work in Denmark. When assessing whether an employee abroad is covered by the rules in the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act, it is important to distinguish between employees who are employed in Denmark and on an official journey/stationed abroad, and employees with a fixed place of employment abroad.
EU citizens who are employed at Aarhus University to perform work in another EU/EEA country or in Switzerland are covered by the university’s obligations in accordance with the rules in the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act during employment without time limitations.
As the regulation does not cover citizens from third countries, these employees must be informed about the missing insurance coverage and receive advice on which types of insurance to take out themselves such as:
International visiting scholars and scientists and international visiting PhD students
Visiting scholars and scientists are researchers working at AU for a limited period of time. During their stay at AU, they remain employed by another university and continue to perform their normal research duties, only with AU as a base.
Pursuant to section 22A of the University Act, from 1 January 2015 international visiting scholars and scientists and non-enrolled international visiting PhD students may be considered as covered by the self-insurance obligation, which means that the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act applies to them.
The university director has decided to consider all international visiting scholars and scientists and non-enrolled international visiting PhD students as covered by the self-insurance obligation.
A more liberal interpretation of this provision that includes persons other than actual visiting international scholars and scientists and international visiting PhD students may not be made.
Generally speaking, on-the-job trainees are not covered by the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act. However, there are a number of exceptions which should be investigated on a case-by-case basis.
Exceptions include certain prospective students who are engaged in on-the-job training pursuant to the Ministerial Order on workers’ compensation of prospective students etc. Legal advisor Anja Sandholt Hald can be contacted in case of doubt via mobile 2778 2862, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors to Aarhus University
If an employee at AU injures a visitor, AU will, as a general rule, be held liable in damages. This liability cannot be excluded. For this reason, it is important to take the necessary precautions and inform visitors about how they must conduct themselves at AU.
If the injury is due to gross negligence on the part of the visitor, AU’s liability may be reduced, depending on the specific case.
A similar liability applies to employees demonstrating experiments and tests outside of the university.
As is the case for personal injury, the university is also self-insured for property damage.
The general rule in connection with property damage is that if an object is covered by insurance, the damage is covered by the property insurance, and the person responsible for the damage will not be held liable. However, this does not apply if the damage is caused intentionally or by gross negligence, see section 19 of the Liability for Damages Act.
Aarhus University may be held liable in damages in accordance with the general Danish legislation on liability in damages. The following conditions must be met:
Based on the above, the university must cover the damage, unless the person causing the loss inflicted the damage intentionally or by gross negligence.
If employees’ belongings are damaged during the performance of their work, the university will be liable for this damage, unless it was caused by accident.
University activities outside of AU’s premises
In connection with activities undertaken outside of Aarhus University’s premises, it may be an idea to draw up a disclaimer of liability for property damage. It is possible that liability in damages in this situation will amount to contractual liability. It may, thus, be agreed that the party requesting that an activity be undertaken outside of AU’s premises will be liable for any property damage, provided, of course, that the university’s employees have complied with all general rules and regulations in connection with the activity.
In the event of damage to AU property, the university is, as a general rule, liable for the repair of such damage, see section 19, cf. section 20, of the Danish liability for damages act (erstatningsansvarsloven).
As the university does not have a central insurance pool, the expense must be covered by the main academic area, department or research environment that suffered the damage.
Accidents, e.g. loss of private mobile phone.
Types of loss other than those covered by the Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Act, e.g. loss of income.
This memo applies to both ordinary and external funding administered by Aarhus University.
The travel insurance policy provides coverage in the event of shorter and longer work-related trips abroad, but not in connection with actual transfers (permanent employment abroad).
The Agency for the Modernisation of Public Administration has decided not to add special USA coverage to the travel insurance policy, not even in connection with the conclusion of a new administrative agreement. The agency’s position is that each institution is responsible for assessing any special expenses that may be connected with sending employees to the United States.
The travel insurance policy does not cover employees’ liability for damages in professional and work-related situations cf. the terms and conditions of the travel insurance policy. This means that if you travel abroad on business and accidentally cause injury to a person or damage to property while working, you are not covered by the travel insurance policy. Instead, the accident will be covered by the general Danish law of damages, according to which AU will be liable for accidents of this kind under the self-insurance scheme.