Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Remote Workers
With so many employees working from home thanks to COVID-19, the remote workforce is stronger than ever. But what does that mean for workers’ compensation? Are employees protected if they get injured doing their job at home? Let’s take a closer at workers’ compensation and the remote worker.
Remote Workers are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation Law
Workers’ compensation covers employees’ medical costs and a portion of lost wages if they should become sick or injured on the job. Workers’ compensation laws vary by state. So you will need to check with your state about the specific details regarding remote workers and workers’ compensation coverage. However, remote and telecommuting workers are typically covered under state workers’ compensation laws if the worker’s injury arises out of or in the course of employment.
Wherever the incident takes place, if the worker is injured while completing a work task during work hours then he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation as a Remote Employee
A remote employee filing a claim for workers’ compensation must provide evidence that the injury is work-related. To make a successful claim, a remote employee will have to show that he or she was acting in the interest of their employer at the time of the injury.
Required by State Law
Under most circumstances, every state, other than the state of Texas, requires employers to provide workers’ compensation to employees and this includes remote employees.
How to Limit Workers’ Compensation Liabilities
To limit workers’ compensation liabilities for employees who work remotely, employers can implement the following strategies.
Define an Employee’s Normal Working Hours and Duties. Having these guidelines clearly defined will help to determine whether an employee’s claim is work-related or not. Set fixed work hours and meal and rest periods for remote workers as well.
Establish Home Office Guidelines. Just because an employee works at home doesn’t mean you can’t have a hand in how the home office is run. These guidelines should include keeping a designated work area, providing training on workstation set up and safety measures such as ergonomics. These measures reduce chances of injury. Review this policy with employees and ask them to sign for acknowledgment that they received and reviewed home office guidelines.
Establish Expectations of Work. Create a remote work policy that outlines expectations for remote workers. This policy should include time management practices, time reporting policies, designated work areas, equipment used and other important details that would help an employee understand what is expected of them during work hours. This scope of work should state that activities falling outside the employee’s job description are not the employer’s responsibility.
Check Home Offices. When possible conduct periodic checks to employee home offices to help identify and eliminate safety hazards in the employee’s work area. Also set guidelines for check ins such as equipment tracking.
Make Note of Employee Equipment. Keep records of the equipment used by each employee.
How To Prepare an Employee’s Home Office for Business
Before an employee can begin working from home, make sure their home office is safe for business. Require remote workers to comply with the health and safety policies of your business. Have them fill out a safety survey or do an inspection of the home office yourself. Check that furniture and office equipment are ergonomically correct and designed so employees can work safely. Check lighting and ventilation as well. Make sure there are adequate fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in the home.
Take a photo of the home office space. Every six months check the home office to see if the employee is following safety requirements. Have the employee designate a dedicated work area. He or she will choose a specific room or area for a home office where they will work.
Make sure the employee’s homeowners policy is up-to-date. A homeowners policy ensures their home and property will be covered in the event of damage done during working hours. Stay in contact with remote employees. Stressed employees tend to be less productive and can be more prone to accidents. So stay in touch and see how they are doing. Set up daily and weekly video calls. Video calls allow you to see them in their home environment and are a good way to gauge how they are doing face to face.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If one of your employees says he or she got injured or sick on the job, it’s important that you file a workers’ compensation claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. How long you have to file a claim varies by state. So it is best to move quickly.
A workers’ compensation claim should include how the accident happened, the type of injury and the day and time of the accident. Give your employee a claim form to complete so they can get workers’ compensation benefits.
If an employee is sick or injured, make sure they receive proper medical attention. Submit the paperwork. Employers will need to send the insurance company their account number, the parent company name and their policy number.
The injured employee would need to submit on the claim form their name, date of birth, address, phone number, Social Security number, age and gender, marital status and number of dependents, hire date, number of years in their current position and current wage information. The claim also should include as many details about the incident as possible. Once you get the workers’ compensation forms back from your employee, send it into your insurance company. Your insurance company will either approve or deny the claim.
An employee can dispute their workers’ compensation benefits or file an appeal if benefits were denied.
Returning to Work
Make accommodations for an injured employee returning to work. You may need to make changes to help them do their job. In some instances, they may need training. Do everything you can to make the transition back to work as smooth as possible for the employee.
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