With so many new tools available, working from home has become an option for more people. But the shift has also opened the door to questions about the separation between home and work life. That is especially true when it comes to worker safety and productivity. If you're wondering if workers' compensation insurance covers employees who work from home, dig a little deeper to learn how it works.
Most at-home workers are using a spare bedroom as their office and sitting in a chair for most of the day. You might think that there's really no risk involved in terms of workplace injuries. But consider a few common scenarios before jumping to this conclusion.
Let's say that an employee works from her basement. While she's upstairs in the kitchen, her boss calls her phone downstairs. If she trips and falls on the way back downstairs, she could reasonably argue that she was serving the company when she got hurt. Even less-dramatic injuries, such as long-term back or shoulder pain, could also be potential claims.
Are These Claims Covered?
Most workers' compensation insurance will cover at-home employees. However, parameters will exist, so check the terms of your exact policy. It's usually on the employees to prove that what occurred was as a direct result of their duties. An employee who burns themselves during lunch likely won't qualify.
An employer might argue that they have no control over the employee's home environment. They might claim to take no responsibility for injuries that occur there. But legally, it's up to the employer to ensure that their employees are safe regardless of where they work, while they are on work time.
The best thing an employer can do is be as clear as possible about what they expect from their employees. You may want to conduct periodic inspections of an employee's work station to ensure they have an adequate and safe space from which to work. From the ergonomics of their chair to the pathways to their desk, these precautions can make a difference when it comes to preventing potential claims.
Workers' compensation can appear complicated, but the basics are easy to remember. The more you remind your employees of proper safety procedures, the less likely you are to face a problem down the line.