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I am a student and recently completed an internship at a big software company in Germany. Last week I injured myself badly and finding it difficult to walk. I have my presentation next week at the company about my internship work. Can I ask them to provide a pick-up? Or should I do a taxi on my own expense? The internship contract is already over.

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    Was your injury work-related, or something you did on your own time? – Mike Ounsworth Jun 8 '15 at 17:13
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    @MikeOunsworth It is not work related. I hurt myself in my own time. – learner Jun 8 '15 at 17:13
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    With most companies, transportation to and from the workplace is the employee's expense. End Of Story. So unless the injury is somehow the company's fault, or your manager is very nice, you should probably just get a taxi. (sorry) – Mike Ounsworth Jun 8 '15 at 17:19
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    Um, er, you might want to rephrase the question in the title. In some places/contexts, the term "pick-up service" can have much a different connotation ... – GreenMatt Jun 8 '15 at 19:34
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    Unless you are far enough away where you would think it's inconvenient I would suggest you say to your boss "Hi, sorry to bother you and I know this is an odd question, but do you know of anyone nearby my area of town that might be willing to give me a ride in? If it's inconvenient I can take a taxi, but I thought I would ask." If it's not possible don't push. There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking as long as you're not attempting to guilt them into anything. – zfrisch Jun 8 '15 at 23:01
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Can I ask them to provide a pick-up? Or should I do a taxi on my own expense?

I would not ask.

Most employers do not take any responsibility for your commute.

Unless the injury was specifically caused by your job, most employers will not have any interest in paying more money for you to commute. In nearly all cases this is considered the employees responsibility.

You could mention this to your boss, in the way "Hey I recently hurt my leg and am not really able to walk so it'd be difficult to get there - it'd be a lot easier for me if we moved the presentation back a week or did it remotely" type of way. It's possible that your boss may offer a taxi, but very unlikely.

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    What does he have to lose by asking? "You have not because you ask not." – Aaron Hall Jun 8 '15 at 19:51
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    @AaronHall he loses his reputation. You do not want to be looked as a person who asks for strange favors. If to take you way, I will not be losing anything if I will come to my boss and ask: 'I want a dog, can a company by it for me?', 'I ordered a shelf, can someone pick it up and bring it to my house', 'I got on vacation, can you bring me to the airport'. From your point of view, I am not losing anything (in the worst case I will get "no"). But in my opinion people will stop speaking to me and start thinking that I am really weird. – Salvador Dali Jun 8 '15 at 20:24
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    @AaronHall: There's a difference between "I've met or exceeded all goals for the past year, I deserve a raise" and "I fell while skiing on vacation and was wondering if you could pay for the taxi to work". The first is work related and appropriate; the second is not work related an inappropriate. – Andrew Coonce Jun 8 '15 at 23:46
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    It sounded more to me like an intern, who no longer works there, wants to make a final presentation (probably a requisite for his educational credit) and would appreciate a lift. So I think asking for a lift isn't a big deal here. It's not like, "Hey, would you send a car to pick me up every day?" Although some places (hedge funds?) might even do that. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People. There's a section on the power of asking for small favors in building relationships. You guys are probably life-long in tech. I used to work in sales. I know what I'm talking about. – Aaron Hall Jun 8 '15 at 23:58
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    @SalvadorDali I disagree, your examples are contrived and unrelated to genuine workplace related questions. Asking for a lift into work because you are injured and asking the company to buy you a dog are in no way comparable. A lot depends on how you ask and how fellow employees feel about you. I used to carpool with colleagues at a previous job and nobody had an issue with it; in fact it helped me build up a rapport with them as we would chat while commuting. – Roy Jun 9 '15 at 13:35
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In Germany, transportation to or from work is generally not paid by the company. The only exception are remote places you cannot reach by public transport like oil rigs. But even then, you'd have to get to the pick off point by yourself.

One reason for this is that providing transport or payment for transport is considered a "Geldwerter Vorteil" (literally translated: an advantage worth money) that is taxed just as if you got the money that it's worth instead. For example: if your company gets you a free public transportation ticket for a month worth 40€, you will need to pay 20€ to the state as taxes, just as if the company had given you 40€ cash. Obviously, giving someone a free ticket for public transportation who does not use it, is a bad thing. He might go by bike all month and still pay 20€ taxes for the 40€ ticket, even though he did not actually use it. Figuring out individually who could actually profit after taxes from subsidized transportation is too much hassle for any company I know.

If a company says it's subsidizing public transport, that's not true in the true sense of the word. It's not subsidizing. The company is just acting as a reseller, getting a better margin buying the tickets in bulk, so it can sell them to you for a cheaper price. You still pay for them the exact price your company paid, which means you got no "Geldwerter Vorteil" because if you pay 30€ for the ticket, you get something worth 30€, the price listed on the bill from the public transportation company, instead of getting a 40€ ticket for free.

For the injury, even if you were injured on company grounds or time or on the way to or from the company ("Arbeitsunfall"), the company itself would not pay. All your expenses would be covered by the insurance that is mandatory.

So yes, you will have to take a taxi and I would not ask your employer for transport. After all, if he cannot provide any, the only thing he can do is pay the very same taxi. And we already established, that expenses are yours to pay, whether you are healthy or not.

The only exception I can see is if your employer actually is in the business of transporting people. If you need a KTW (KrankenTransportWagen, kind of an ambulance for scheduled, non-emergency cases) to get to work and you work for a rescue service, going through the official channels would probably look strange. Especially arriving in a transport vehicle of a different rescue organisation would probably be frowned upon.

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    I don't think Geldwerter Vorteil would apply here. As it seems to be a one-time thing (and not like getting to work every day) and it is work-related I would guess it is to be handled like a travel reimbursement (were you also personally don't pay taxes on cab fares; it is just part of your business travel). Also, I guess the OP can't even get a "Geldwerter Vorteil" as she/he isn't employed at the company any more. – dirkk Jun 9 '15 at 13:23
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    @dirkk The rather lengthy explanation is to explain why in Germany, companies in general do not pay for your transportation. People downvoted the answer because they did not understand German regulations and thought I just made it up. The comments and downvotes have since been deleted. It's indeed not part of my original answer because it has nothing to do with the situation at hand. – nvoigt Jun 9 '15 at 14:00
  • @dirkk I am not a lawyer, but travel reimbursements means the company pays for travel I do on their time. I do not get any benefit from it. Getting to and from work cannot be reimbursed without it being "Geldwerter Vorteil". Because simply put, it is. It's worth money. It does not matter if its one time or not. However for a one-time 10$ cab ride, nobody would care. – nvoigt Jun 9 '15 at 14:06
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    But the OP is not getting to and from work, because the OP does not work there. I would compare it e.g. to a speaker a company invites (after all, the OP is speaking there and is not on payroll) - I would find it completely normal if a company employee picks up a guest from a train station or airport or maybe sends a cab. I don't think this would constitute a Geldwerter Vorteil. Of course no-one really cares anyway, I totally agree on this. – dirkk Jun 9 '15 at 14:17
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    @dirkk Again: Geldwerter Vorteil is only meant to explain my generalization because people did not understand the situation in Germany and downvoted me on the base of "but I did this in the USA, you are wrong". – nvoigt Jun 9 '15 at 16:29
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If you have a personal relationship with anyone at the company who lives anywhere near where you do, then I'd consider asking them if they would mind picking you up for this one day as a personal favor. You don't say how long your internship lasted or anything about your relationship with your coworkers, but at the past few jobs I've worked at, at each one I'd say within six months I knew a few people well enough to ask them for this level of (relatively minor) favor. As long as this isn't going very far out of their way, it's really not a big deal - if they're already driving. Of course, if nobody you know drives to work (and in Europe I guess that's more common than in the US), this may not be feasible - but it probably doesn't hurt to ask.

I don't think the company would necessarily do it as a part of doing business, though it certainly doesn't hurt to explain yourself and ask - and perhaps your supervisor would do the same out of a personal favor. Again - it doesn't hurt to ask. I wouldn't expect it, but give them the available information, and let them make their decision.

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It's definitely worth explaining your injury, especially if you finished your internship on good terms. After hearing your story, the company has options: they can tell you no, you need to get your own transport, they can provide transport, or they can either cancel or reschedule the presentation. It's very unlikely that politely explaining your new circumstances (you can't walk much) will burn any bridges. At worst, you'll be in the same situation you are now, having to find your own transportation.

The closer you are to the workplace, the more likely it is you can get a ride, either with an employee or by taxi. This is not something the company owes you, but a company is made up of individuals who will probably be sympathetic to your circumstances. If you are nearby, ask your boss first, and then anyone else you may have become close to at the company. Explain your situation. Ask your boss about the cab fare, then anyone about getting a ride. My company (in the US) often has interns without cars, and it's pretty common for people to give them rides to the train station (15 minute walk), or even to their lodging, if it's close to where the employee lives. The shorter the distance you need, the more likely they'll give you the taxi money or a ride.

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Whose benefit is the presentation for? You say your contract is over, which strongly suggests they are no longer your employer, and this is not a case of employee travel to your usual workplace.

If you no longer work for them, and you're doing a presentation for their benefit, for example to help them assess their intern programme, then it seems pretty reasonable to request travel expenses, especially if you're doing it for no pay. They might say no, but I don't think too many places would consider it outrageous for an outside speaker to request travel expenses. Don't be too demanding, of course, since you want to remain on good terms with them, but what do they seriously expect, that you'll remain at their beck and call as long as they want?

Since you're injured, your travel expenses are higher than they otherwise would be. Of course you'll inform them of this, so it's their call whether they think it's worth it. Under the circumstances they could delay the presentation or cancel it entirely -- in fact they might agree that anyway to save you the trouble of travelling while you're hurt.

German law seems similar to UK law, in that an employer paying for travel to your usual place of work is taxable income. If that applies (that is to say, if you're still their employee for tax purposes despite your contract being over), then they could either pay your expenses plus necessary taxes (this is a standard calculation in tax accountancy), or if applicable they could give you their opinion that this presentation is not part of your regular commute to your usual workplace and therefore they can pay travel expenses untaxed. Whatever they think the situation is.

If the presentation is for your benefit (that is, it's part of your course requirement and the company is prepared to listen to it as a courtesy) then you're in a more difficult position. Perhaps your university will waive the requirement or give you an extension on the deadline, or you could declare yourself medically unable to complete the task and see what happens. But fundamentally if your university requires you to be at a certain place for part of your course, and you're physically able to get there, then chances are you'll have to pay even if it means a taxi.

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What does your doctor say about your ability to work? Are you unable to work ("arbeitsunfähig" in German)? Can your doctor order you to stay at home to cure your injury? In Germany this is called "krankschreiben" (literally "writing sick"). If your doctor finds you unfit to work, stay at home until you are healthy again.

Regarding your presentation, ask to move it to a later date. You don't have to work if your health does not allow you to. In fact, your employer must support you in getting healthy again. He must not order you to work if working imapairs your health.

  • OP isn't employee anymore, the contract expired. Seems more like a voluntary thing as I understand it. – idkfa Feb 14 '16 at 9:51

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