For years, the amount of people working remotely has increased. With the onset of COVID in 2020, this shift in the workplace was accelerated. In fact, over 60% of workers in the United States moved to remote areas since the COVID pandemic began.
As more individuals work from home, many companies are investigating whether or not workers’ compensation benefits are necessary for employees who are only remote, and what this would mean in the event of an injury.
This scenario has resulted in many asking many questions surrounding protocols for an employee who works remotely. With that said, here are the basics of workers’ compensation and how you should proceed in regard to a remote worker sustaining injury. However, it’s safe to say that if you are in a situation like this, seek out work injury attorneys who can help. Most of them offer accident lawyers free consultation.
Is It Necessary For Remote Employees To Get Workers’ Compensation?
When your company has more than one employee, practically every state requires workers’ compensation coverage, including employees who work from home.
When an employee suffers an injury or becomes sick as a result of their job-related duties, workers’ comp pays for the expenses related to this. Coverage includes:
- Medical Costs
- Lost Earnings
- Benefits from Disability
In addition to workers’ comp, many companies have liability coverage included in their plans, which would cover them in the event of a lawsuit from an employee who was hurt. This would cover:
- Fees charged by lawyers
- Expenses in court
- Settlements or court rulings
In general, an injury that takes place during “the course of employment” is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This implies that an injury sustained during work hours while doing tasks related to your job could be covered, even if you are hurt while working at home.
For employees who work from home, how does their workers’ compensation benefits work?
Remote work is often seen as a benefit by employees. However, it has several disadvantages for employers.
You have minimal control over the security of your workers’ environment when they are working from home. When a remote employee is hurt while on the job, there may be no witnesses to verify there was an actual accident and how it happened.
Workers’ compensation will only pay out for injuries that occur “in the course of employment”. When a claim comes through, it can be difficult to know if an injury by your remote employee is actually covered.
There is also a “personal comfort doctrine” within workers’ comp coverage in most states, which states that employees should be reimbursed when they are hurt while doing routine tasks such as using the restroom while on the job.
The regulations are not always clear cut. Even if an employee is hurt during working hours, the clock doesn’t guarantee it is connected to his or her job. It is contingent on their conduct as well as the conditions.
While there are many factors to consider, you are not burdened with handling everything. This is what your insurance company has been paid to do. It is your duty to ensure that any remote worker is aware that they need to report an injury sustained during work as soon as they can. Make every effort to record the occurrence before filing a claim with your insurance carrier. State regulations will different, but it’s generally known that you should report an injury to the workers’ compensation board in your state.
The company will not have much to do once the claims process has begun. Reduce the risk of injury before it occurs, which will help reduce any costs related to workers’ compensation.