What to Know About Workers’ Compensation and Working from Home
by Erie Insurance
In the midst of this pandemic, you may have found yourself among the 63 percent of Americans working from home. A recent Gartner poll predicts that 48 percent of workers will continue to work remote at least part time even when it’s safe to physically return to work again.
Of course, working from home has pros and cons. It also raises serious questions like what would happen if an employee becomes injured while performing work at home.
Workers' compensation (often shortened to workers’ comp) laws and requirements vary by state, but generally, any business that has employees must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It helps cover medical care and lost wages for an employee who is hurt at work.
With many employees working from the kitchen table or the home office, it helps to know how workers’ compensation can kick in. (As always, talk to your local ERIE agent for questions about your specific policy.)
WILL WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVER AN EMPLOYEE IF THEY GET INJURED WHILE WORKING FROM HOME?
If an employee is hurt on work premises, they’re typically covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for injury or disease employees sustain in the course and scope of employment. It applies regardless of negligence, with workers’ compensation laws varying by state.
Most telecommuters are still covered under their employers’ workers’ compensation coverage, whether full-time remote workers or temporary due to pandemic stay-at-home orders.
“It’s important to remember that workers’ compensation insurance isn’t tied to a building,” says Leo Heintz, vice president of commercial products at ERIE. “It follows you wherever you go, subject to the policy conditions, while you’re at work.”
WHAT ARE COMMON INJURIES THAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN WORKING FROM HOME?
Common injuries telecommuting office workers experience include carpal tunnel syndrome; back sprains and strains; and slips, trips and falls. The injury or disease typically has to arise out of a work-related activity to be covered under workers’ comp.
“Injuries are possible even if you have a desk job,” Heintz said. “That’s why it’s important to practice the same good ergonomic activities at your home office as you do when at your regular office. Simple things like good posture and remembering to take time and stretch, or getting up and walking around, can make all the difference.”