Remote Workers, Workplace Injury, and Workers’ Compensation
As a result of COVID-19 stay at home directives and mandated workplace workforce reductions on the city and state levels across the country, more people are working remotely or working from home than at any time in U.S. history. Many of these displaced workers will return to the workplace fold, a process that is likely to commence in some states are “early” as May. Texas businesses are likely to be on the forefront of this process with restrictions on businesses expected to begin easing as early as May 1.
Although many people will return to working onsite, some businesses have come to realize that remote working is proving to have benefits that outweigh the challenges and are apt to permit at least some percentage of their employees to continue to work from home. In addition, a growing number of people have experienced injuries of different types while “on the clock” for their employers at their remote work locations, at their homes. The sudden uptick in the number of people working from home has placed an abrupt, sharp focus on issues surrounding workers, workplace injury, and workers’ compensation.
What is a Workplace Injury in this Day and Age?
The term “workplace injury” can prove to be confusing and even misleading in and of itself. Breaking the term into its trio of component parts, employers and employees end up envisioning a calculation: work + place + injury = compensation. Place hovers over the entire matter. Indeed, a workplace injury oftentimes happens in a factory, office, store, restaurant, or wherever a business has designated its workers to perform their duties. But not always. And that’s never more been the case than right now across the United States.
The generally accepted technical or legal definition of a workplace injury is an injury or illness that occurs in relation to an employee’s job. The majority to states in the U.S.A. narrow this definition further: A workplace injury is one that arises out of and in the course of employment.”
Despite the ubiquitous focus on “place” when considering workplace injuries, the reality is that even in the narrowest definition of what constitutes this type of injury, “place” is never referenced. In the final analysis, a better term to apply to a job-related mishap would be a worktime injury. Thinking in terms of a work-time injury creates a better understanding of your rights should you sustain an injury or illness while working on behalf of your employer from home.
Proactive Tactics Your Need to Take to Better Protect Your Rights when Working from Home
There are some proactive steps you can take that will prove beneficial should you ever face the need to pursue work comp claim for an injury sustained at home while on the clock for your employer:
- Maintain a schedule of hours each week you will be working for your employer. If a meal and other break-times are included in your overall work-time, include those in your schedule. Even if your work schedule is expected to be the same week after week, prepare such a schedule in advance of an upcoming week nonetheless. Submit the schedule to your supervisor, perhaps with something as simple as an email that states something to the effect of just confirming my work schedule.
- If at all possible, establish a designated work area in your home. This tends to enhance productivity, but it also delineates a specific area in which you perform work functions. In an ideal world, your employer “checks out” the work-spaces and gives approval for the setup. This doesn’t necessarily require an in-person visit and can be accomplished using any number of different types of audio and visual communication applications available today.
- Clock in and clock out at the beginning and end of any work day so that there is no confusion as to when you are engaged in “work-time.”
What to do if You’ve Been Injured on the Job While Working at Home
If you’ve sustained a work-related injury while undertaking your job duties remotely from your home, you may find yourself facing challenges in pursuing a claim for compensation to which you are entitled as a worker. If that is the case, or if you’ve questions more generally about a workplace – worktime – injury you sustained, a Doan Law Firm workers’ compensation lawyer is available to discuss your case and your rights. You can reach our firm 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including all major holidays, at (800) 349-0000.
A nationwide law practice, with offices located from coast to coast, there is no charge for an initial consultation and case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm. The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee pledge. You pay nothing in attorney fees unless we win for you.