Workers Compensation and Working from Home
Technological advances allow people to work remotely. Telephones, computers and the internet allow these workers to be productive despite not being present at the workplace. Of course, when workers’ compensation statutes were drafted, this situation was really not contemplated, ultimately raising interesting issues about coverage for remote workers.
Telecommuting as an Option
Employers offer some employees the opportunity to telecommute and not work in the office at all or some of the time. This allows employees to avoid commuting time, handle family matters and allows a talented employee to be hired even if he or she works nowhere near the office. It also lowers an employer’s costs as less office space is needed.
Workers’ compensation is insurance covering employees when they are injured on the job or become ill due to their job. The rules on workers’ compensation are governed by state law and thus vary from state to state. Some mandate that all employers with any employees have workers’ compensation. Other states establish a minimum number of employees before there is a requirement for an employer to purchase workers’ compensation. Generally, employers are required to purchase coverage from a licensed insurance company unless they have the means to be self-insured.
Some states require an injury to “arise out of and occur within the course of employment” to be covered. Thus, an injury must be related to work to be included in a workers’ compensation claim. The location, timing and circumstances of the incident are crucial to this analysis. If an injury happens during regular hours of work and it happens where the employee is supposed to be working and is related to a duty for the employer it is probably covered under this language. An injury in a home or remote office would certainly be covered as if the injury had occurred in the office.
Other Risks for Employees Who Work From Home
Remote employees are more difficult to supervise directly creating additional risks for employers. If there are safety issues, the employer likely has less of an ability to make sure a remote employee is taking safety precautions than someone working on site.
An employer might elect to set extra safety requirements to reduce these risks including setting precise hours of work and breaks to limit liability for injuries that occur after hours. Also, an employer often elects to clearly delineate permissible work activities by the telecommuter. An employer can sometimes dictate the room(s) in a home where an employee may work. A visit to the home office before the start of remote work can help find possible safety problems allowing them to be addressed before work begins.
Contact a Newark Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case
A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey workers’ compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lombardi & Lombardi, PA represent clients with workplace injuries in Newark, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Toms River and throughout New Jersey. Call 732-564-7165 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have offices conveniently located at 1862 Oak Tree Road, Edison, NJ 08820 and in Brick, Freehold and Point Pleasant, NJ.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.