As more companies allow their employees to work remotely, questions inevitably arise about how this arrangement affects workers’ compensation benefits. Avoiding liability and ensuring compliance means that employers understand the rules governing workers’ compensation for employees working from home.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Although each state has specific rules concerning who must purchase or receive workers’ compensation insurance, the goal is always the same. This insurance provides benefits for employees injured on the job in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue an employer. It covers various expenses, including:
- Loss of wages during recovery
- Bills for medical treatments
- Vocation rehabilitation
- Funeral costs
How Does Workers’ Compensation Apply to Remote Workers?
Regardless of where an incident occurs, injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if their injuries occur while performing their jobs. In addition, the law states that it is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment to prevent injuries, even if the workspace is the employee’s home.
How Can Employers Ensure Their Remote Workers’ Safety?
Although it can be difficult to control every aspect of a home environment, employers who follow these guidelines can help reduce injuries to remote staff members.
- Establish work hours. Although the workday boundaries become blurry when employees perform their jobs from home, employers can clearly define the hours during which they expect their staff to perform job-related duties. Injuries occurring outside of these hours would not be work-related.
- Define roles. Employers must clearly define job roles and performance expectations to avoid liability for injuries that occur while employees perform unofficial tasks on behalf of the company.
- Convey workstation requirements. Remote workers are often not equipped with the amount and type of space to effectively perform their jobs. A poorly conceived workstation can create a wide variety of unintended injuries. Among these are muscle strain from typing on a very high desk, eye strain from reading with insufficient light, or bone breaks from tripping on improperly placed wires.
- Enforce accountability measures. Employers who want to reduce the incidence of work-related injuries for remote workers should establish a reporting system to ensure accountability. Combining timely check-ins or status reports with equipment usage tracking methods can help employers stay aware of the progression of remote work activities and curtail those activities that could potentially increase a company’s liability.
If you are unsure about maintaining your employees’ safety while working remotely, speak with a Workers Compensation Attorneys in NY from a law firm like Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. who can help you establish the appropriate policies to reduce your company’s liability risk.