Workers’ compensation provides funds for workers injured while on-the-job. In many situations, qualification for these benefits may seem pretty obvious. Workers who trip and fall when they walk from their office desk to a meeting would likely qualify. Even those who are driving and injured in a car accident may qualify as long as the trip was within the scope of employment (not during a commute to/from work).
But what about those who are working remotely? Although it may not be as clear as the examples listed above, remote workers can still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Some key factors
Although many more workers are working remotely today due to the coronavirus than ever have in the past, the concept of remote employment is not a new one. As a result, there are cases that have already reached the courtroom to address this issue. Some common themes from previous cases that workers have used to help build a successful case when working remotely include:
- Permission. First, it is important the worker have permission from the employer to work from home. Without the employer’s approval, it is unlikely workers’ comp benefits will apply.
- “Work at Home” criteria. Courts look at the quantity and regularity of work done at home, whether work equipment is at home (computers, etc.), and whether circumstances make it “necessary” and not just “convenient” to work at home.
- Scope of employment. Next, the accident that resulted in the injury must have occurred when the employee was operating within the scope of their employment. Getting injured while going to check on how your kids are doing or to feed a pet would probably not count but an injury that occurs while walking across the room to answer the phone for a work call may be compensable.
Using this information, remote workers who are injured on-the-job can better ensure a successful workers’ comp case.