When the Covid-19 pandemic initially created the need for a drastic increase in the number of telecommuting workers, the repercussions to workplace culture were difficult to imagine. One issue that most didn’t consider was the drastic increase in work-from-home workplace injuries.
The Remote Workforce & Compensable Workplace Injuries
Initially, it appeared that the mass removal of America’s workforce to work from home positions would result in a decrease of workers’ comp claims. With fewer people in the workplace, it seemed like a logical evolution. However, as American workers settle in at home, the number of workplace injury claims from remote workers is actually increasing. But many wonder when an employee’s injury is compensable when they are working remotely. Generally speaking, an employee’s injury is compensable under workers’ compensation if it occurs in the course of or arises due to the individual’s employment. The location where the injury occurs isn’t technically a factor.
Determining If a Work at Home Injury is a Compensable Injury:
In most cases, the burden to prove the injury is work-related lies on the employee. The two qualifying factors that must be met are:
1. Proving that what the employee was doing at the time of the injury was work-related, and
2. Proving when the injury happened and that it was during the time they were “working.”
The Crucial Factor: What Were You Doing When You Were Injured?
For a successful workers’ compensation claim, the employee must show that at the time of their injury, they were acting in the interest of their employer. While some argue that remote workers’ injuries are not compensable because the employer lacks control over the conditions at the employee’s work “premises” (their home), the courts have found this lack of control irrelevant when considering workers’ comp claims. When an employee is working from home, their home becomes their work premises, and the most common interpretation of the situation is that the hazards the employee may encounter while working at home are hazards of their employment. Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe work environment, and this standard is expected for both in-office and telecommuting employees.
If you are a remote worker and you’ve been injured on the job, get in touch with Armstrong & Vaught P.L.C., Tulsa’s Premier Workers’ Compensation, Employment, and Social Security Law Firm. We have the experience you need on your side.