Does Workers Comp Extend to Work From Home Employees?

Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the benefits it offers both employees and employers. Recent data indicates that 43% of employees work from their homes at least part of the time. As a workers’ comp lawyer in NY from a firm like Hurwitz, Whitcher & Molloy, LLP can explain, his working arrangement can lead to questions when employees suffer injuries while doing their jobs at home.

Does Workers’ Compensation Apply to Employees Working at Home?

Workers’ compensation benefits may apply to employees who are injured while working at home. Workers’ comp covers employees for injuries, regardless of where those injuries occur, as long as the injuries are work-related. However, it can be more difficult to prove that an injury is work-related when that injury happens outside the workplace.

What Determines Whether an Injury Is Work-Related?

Whether an injury that occurs at home is work-related depends on several factors. First, the injury must have occurred while the employee was doing something on the employer’s behalf. For example, an employee who slips and falls at home while walking to their fax machine to fax a work-related document may be eligible for workers’ compensation, while an employee who slips and falls while playing with the dog on a break probably will not be. 

Another factor to consider is whether employees were required by the employers to do whatever they were doing at the time the injury occurred. For example, an employee who developed carpal tunnel syndrome from doing data entry for their employer at home may be eligible, while an employee who developed carpal tunnel from answering personal emails probably would not be. 

Finally, it matters whether the action that led to the injury was approved by the employer.  If the employee was working from home without authorization, that may impact whether the employee qualifies for workers’ compensation. However, the employer does not need to have control over the homework environment for workers’ compensation to apply.

How Does the Employer’s Responsibility To Maintain a Safe Work Environment Apply to Remote Employees?

Employers can satisfy this responsibility by establishing written guidelines that govern employee obligations to maintain a safe environment. They may also create home office guidelines, restrict work hours and examine home office setups. These steps help employers ensure that employees are taking appropriate steps to avoid repetitive stress injuries and accidents in the homework environment.

The burden of proving that an injury at home is work-related falls on the employee. If you need assistance proving your workers’ compensation case, contact a workers’ compensation attorney in your area.