Personal-Comfort Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Personal comfort doctrine is a legal principle that states that the that the course of employment is not interrupted by certain acts relating to the employee's personal comfort such as short breaks for eating, drinking, using the restroom, smoking, seeking relief from discomfort and the like. Courts utilize the personal comfort doctrine to determine when an entirely personal workplace activity is sufficiently incidental to the employment to permit recovery under workers' compensation statute. The personal comfort doctrine judicially decrees that, because certain on-the-job acts of personal comfort are "necessarily contemplated," they are incidental to the employment itself and thereby encompass the inevitable attendant dangers. Therefore, an accidental work injury sustained during an activity covered by the doctrine is "deemed to have arisen out of the employment." The personal comfort doctrine incorporates a foreseeability element to the cause of injury. For example, in Holly Hill Fruit Products, Inc. v. Krider, 473 So. 2d 829 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 1985) an employee who was injured while crossing a street to purchase cigarettes was held to have sustained a compensable injury because worker's attendance to personal comfort during a refreshment break was conducive to the facilitation of the employment, and employee's brief off-premises trip did not remove him from the course and scope of his employment.