As a telecommuter, you may wonder whether workers’ compensation would come to your rescue if you got injured at home. Telecommuters do get workers’ compensation benefits but only if their claims meet certain standards. Here are some of the things that determine whether a telecommuter can enjoy the benefits.
Even if you work at home, you should have a designated workplace where you perform your work duties. For example, if your work involves a computer, you should have a desk in a specific area where you usually work. If you have such a setup, then you may have an easy time with your claim if you are injured while at your desk.
For example, you deserve compensation if an electrical power surge gives you a nasty electrical shock while you are at your work desk. However, you may face difficulties with your claim if you step on a garden rake in your backyard while you typically work in your home office.
Most employers require telecommuters to maintain certain hours of operations. Your employer may even require you to log in and out whenever you start and stop work respectively. If your employer has such a requirement, then your claim may proceed without glitches if you can prove that your injury occurred while you were logged in.
Say your employer only permits you to work a maximum of nine hours each day, but you have the permission to decide when to commence work. Don’t expect any compensation if you started work at 7 a.m. but the injury occurred at night because that would place the injury time outside your normal hours of operations.
Workers’ compensation only applies to injuries that arise out of your job or work activities. Therefore, you have to prove that the activity you were engaged in at the time of the injury is part of your job description. Otherwise, your employer may claim that you got injured while you were engaged in your personal activities.
Consider a software engineer who works at home but got injured when they attempted to diagnose a fault in their UPS (uninterruptible power supply). The engineer might have a hard time with their workers’ compensation claim if hardware fault diagnosis wasn’t in their job description.
Employers with telecommuters understand the inherent risks and difficulties of telecommuting. Such employers tend to have strict policies for their telecommuters. Your chances of compensation drastically reduce if you get injured during a violation of your employer’s policies.
For example, your employer may have a policy that bars you from job activities whenever you are intoxicated. With such a policy in place, your workers’ compensation claim hay hit a snag if investigations reveal that you were drunk at the time of the accident.
Lastly, you will only get workers’ compensation if you have your employer’s permission to work from home. Ideally, you need explicit permission from your employer that allows you to telecommute. You may still enjoy the benefits if you don’t have explicit permission from your employer to work from home, but your employer knows you do it and hasn’t complained.
However, you will have a hard time with your claim if your employer had explicitly warned you not to work from home. Say your job is inherently risky and requires strict supervision that you can only enjoy at the workplace.
Workers’ compensation claims for telecommuting injuries are more complicated than claims for those who get injured on their employer’s premises. Don’t try to handle such a claim without legal counsel because you may fail to prove your claim and miss the benefits. Consult Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., to assess the circumstances of your injuries and help you prove your claim.