Does Worker’s Comp Cover Remote Workers?

May 17, 2021

People have worked remotely in large numbers for decades. Some have called everything from a coffee shop to a beach their “office”. Those in 2020 the number of remote workers skyrocketed due to lockdowns associated with covid. Remote work is not a new concept. For years, employees in administrative roles have worked outside of their corporate offices but now even technical and manual job functions have migrated to remote work.

Employers had to adapt to a new remote work model with the rise of a global pandemic. In some cases even requiring all employees to work from home. With this shift in where employees were working from there was bound to be changes in how workers different kind of workers’ compensation claims and laws affected this new crop of home-based workers. With their workforce now working from home,  company HR representatives were faced with the new question, “Does workers’ compensation cover remote workers?”

Is Remote Work Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

To answer this question in simple terms, yes. Workers’ compensation does cover remote workers. There are however some conditions, chief of which is that the injury arose out of and occurred in the course of their employment. This means the injury or illness had to have taken place while performing work duties and not attending to personal matters. So if you work as an accounts clerk and took a break to mount a TV or fix a leaky pipe and injured yourself you may not qualify for workers’ compensation since that action fell outside of your normal work duties.

The Grey Area With Workers’ Compensation

One claim in the news involved a remote employee who fell down the stairs of her home and injured her neck during work hours. The employee had left her basement office set-up to grab a drink from her upstairs kitchen and was injured in the process. She filed a claim with her employer for workers’ compensation benefits, which was promptly denied, not an uncommon trend for injured workers.

The employer argued the employee was attending to her own personal matters and not work-related activity; however, the Commonwealth Court saw it differently. The Court ruled in favor of the injured worker, concluding the home office was an approved “secondary work premise” and that the injury arose in the course of employment. She was awarded workers’ compensation benefits within the standard range of her injury type.

On the flip side, some remote work injuries fail to meet the requirements set forth by the state. A workers’ claim was rejected by the Commission and Court of Appeals after she injured herself while working from home by tripping on her way across her kitchen. The employer argued that the employee was not approved to work from home, violating agency policy and Wage and Hour laws by working on a Saturday. The injury was deemed non-compensable, meaning that it did not occur in the course and scope of her employment.

Remote Workers Comp Rules By State

Differences in state statutes and employer policies make for loads of obscurity. Some estimates have shown that by 2025 some 36.2 million Americans will be fully remote  With the trend fully underway, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies around work from home/remote work and any safety standards that they may enforce.

Best Workers Comp Pharmacy in South Florida

At the time of publication of this blog, the state of Florida has limited workers’ compensation coverage to only a select subset of “essential workers” deemed as “frontline state employees” who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 based on the nature of their jobs. These jobs include Doctors, Nurses, Fire and Rescue, Paramedics and other first responders, police officers, department of corrections officers, and state employees working in healthcare fields. This designation leaves many workers without a guarantee of coverage in the event of contracting a disease like COVID-19. This is where the team of attorneys affiliated with Our Professional Network comes into play. They will go to work on your behalf to get you the necessary Florida workers’ compensation you deserve.  If you need more answers concerning Florida workers’ compensation that weren’t provided to you here, feel free to call us today at  844.238.9313 or visit our contact page.

 

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