Can I File for Workers’ Compensation if I Work from Home?

work from home

By Mark Scott 

It’s entirely possible and quite common to work from home — especially now with the Covid-19 public health crisis causing more and more people to telecommute. Under the law, a company must have a clear telecommuting policy that ensures you qualify for on-the-job injury compensation.

The following safeguards are necessary to ensure that all your injuries are covered:

  • Have clear guidelines to prevent any ambiguities in a potential worker’s compensation claim.
  • Guidelines should include normal working hours and scheduled breaks to prevent becoming too tired to work safely.
  • Make sure that you have an up-to-date homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Inspect and photograph your work area and identify any potential hazards.
  • Update your photos and private inspection every 6 months.
  • Make sure that all work-related devices are secured and that your home computer is protected.
  • Check in with the offsite employer directly at regular intervals.

Having a dedicated area from which to work is extremely important for insurance, office tax deductions, and greater productivity. You can be just a regular employee when working from the area, and you will be less distracted from common household interruptions.

When to Contact a Lawyer

When should you contact a worker’s compensation lawyer? That’s really up to you, but most workers’ comp experts recommend hiring an attorney immediately if any of the following conditions are true:

  • The injuries are not clearly work-related.
  • The injuries are extremely severe.
  • A long recovery is likely.
  • You developed a permanent disability.
  • It is unclear whether you were performing a personal task at the time of the work-related accident.
  • The accident occurred while engaging in horseplay.

One scenario seldom fits all states, and the states set the worker’s compensation criteria. It’s also important to understand the details of your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance.

Seamless Worker’s Compensation

Companies are generally required to supervise remote work and limit worker’s compensation plans to control the costs. Remote work was common even before the Covid-19 crisis, and injuries that happen while an employee is engaged in work for a company are compensable regardless of the employee’s location.

If a worker is injured while doing work for the company, they have the right to file a worker’s compensation claim. The remote-working employee has the burden of proof of providing clear evidence that the injury was work-related. That’s why establishing normal work hours is so helpful. Your computer logs might be consulted to prove a questionable case.

Your Work Environment

Employers tacitly consider working conditions at home as generally safe, but they have the right to inspect the premises, see photos of the work area, and try to spot safety hazards just as they do at the office.

During the pandemic, employers face some challenging new legal problems when assigning work to telecommuters, but they essentially bear the burden of ensuring that the work area is safe.

Limiting Liability

Obviously, it is in the best interest of both employees and employers to limit worker’s compensation liability. Only people trying to abuse the system would actively seek to hide or downplay safety risks. It’s important for employers to define working hours, remote worker duties, and compensation coverage from the get-go.

Companies can limit their liability by defining work times and conditions, establishing guidelines for remote workers, and recommending safety measures like mandatory breaks and limitations to the total hours worked in a given period.

About the Author

With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.