Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Injuries Sustained by Remote Workers?

workers compensation for remote workers

Even before the pandemic struck, more and more American remote workers were working from home either full time or occasionally. With the increase in remote workers, the question of workers’ compensation for work from home accidents becomes a little more complicated. Questions of who is liable should a remote worker accident occur, can be tricky when the employee is working at a home office. However, there are cases where workers comp for remote workers is available. Here we look at workers’ comp for remote workers, the benefits available and how it applies to working from home.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers compensation for work from home employees is insurance that covers employees who suffer from work-related illness or injury. Each state has their own rules for workers’ compensation to dictate when and how employers acquire and provide the insurance. Through workers’ compensation, employees, including remote workers, can receive the medical care they need following work-related illnesses or injuries. The insurance provides work from homers a portion of your wages when you are recovering or receiving treatment. The rate of compensation is determined by the state.

Compensation not only covers injuries and illness but also those who suffer life-changing injuries or who die due to work-related illness or accidents. It is a form of no-fault insurance so that it isn’t necessary to prove the company was negligent. However, it is important to note when work from homers agree to receive workers’ compensation for work from home accidents you waive your right to sue your employer for your damages.

Is a Worker from Home Covered?

As with other rules surrounding workers’ compensation, the state where you work creates their own criteria for those who are eligible to receive insurance. Sometimes it is based on the number of employees at a business while other states require workers’ compensation regardless of how many employees they have. Some industries might be excluded by certain states which means employees injured on the job in those industries have to sue their employees for damages to cover their time off work, medical bills and any other damages related to the injury.

In general, employees do not have to be on the site of the business to claim workers’ compensation. If they are conducting work for the company at home, at other work sites, at a clients’ home, etc. injuries related to that work can qualify you for workers’ compensation for work from home cases. Because of this, if an injury occurs at home, the remote worker should qualify for compensation, in the same manner, had the employee been onsite at the office. 

What Injuries Are Covered by Workers Compensation for Work from Home?

Any injuries sustained on the job are covered by workers’ compensation. However, while all injuries are covered, some states do not include work-related illnesses in the coverage or limit the illnesses covered. Injuries do not only apply to a single accident. Instead, they can refer to repetitive stress injuries such as being exposed to certain chemicals or performing certain manual tasks. This is less common for workers compensation for work from home cases since they are working in what should be the safety of their home.

workers compensation for remote workers

In some states, employers can test for drug or alcohol use following an accident. If the employee fails the test, the employer is not held responsible for the accident. This poses a challenge for employers with remote workers as they might not be able to get to the person’s home office in order to conduct timely testing.

What Types of Benefits are Available?

Benefits for workers’ compensation for work from home cases are paid out based on the nature of the injury, in hand with state requirements. While most cases cover payment of medical expenses and wage replacement, some might expand coverage to include things such as vocational rehabilitation if injuries keep the injured from performing their usual job tasks as well as compensation for permanent injuries and survivors’ benefits. Medical providers are usually assigned to provide treatment, although some states do allow employees to use their own medical providers for workers compensation for work from home employees.

Risks of Remote Work

Workers’ compensation for work from home remote workers is challenging because the worker is not under constant supervision. This means it presents an additional risk of liability that potentially falls on the work from homer’s shoulders. It is far easier for an employer to claim they were not at fault as they are not responsible for the remote workers’ working environment. Some businesses work with their remote workers to establish safety measures. By doing so they mitigate risk for work-related accidents and workers’ compensation for work from home situations.

As well, little details such as established lunch hours and break times help avoid overlap of potential accidents that occur during business hours, but when the work from homer is not actually technically on the clock. Remote workers and their employers should also define what work can be performed at the home office versus what they might be expected to do when on-site at the place of business. If a company really wants to mitigate risk, they might even assist in setting up the workstation for the work from homer to solve potential issues that could lead to accidents.

Personal Versus Work Time

Avoiding confusion over “frolics and detours” issues, is also important for workers’ compensation for work from home cases. A “detour” refers to a minor departure from a remote workers’ duties even though they are still technically performing their job duties. A “frolic” on the other hand refers to a major departure to attend to personal tasks. It can become tricky if an employer allows more flexibility. Some remote workers might spread out their work hours to suit their home schedules.

For example, a parent might prefer to work once their child is off to school. Defining when someone is considered to be working including detours to say use the bathroom or make a cup of coffee, can help make it clear when an injury is compensable. If an injury occurs during a frolic when a work from homer acts on their personal needs, then the injury would not be considered compensable.

Independent Contractors and Workers Comp for Remote Workers

Workers’ compensation for work from home situations usually excludes independent contractors. This can pose yet another potential issue for work from homers. An employed remote worker is on the payroll and entitled to the same benefits of their coworkers working at the office site. However, an independent contractor is not considered an employee and therefore workers’ compensation does not cover work-related injuries.

The bottom line is that while workers’ compensation for work from home situations does apply, it will be more difficult to confirm eligibility. Therefore, each case surrounding workers comp for remote workers must be reviewed to evaluate the details and determine how the laws apply.


Quick Answers

Is a Worker from Home Covered by Workers Compensation?

If you are conducting work for the company at home, at other work sites, at a clients’ home, etc. injuries related to that work can qualify you for workers’ compensation for work from home cases.

How Do “Frolics” and “Detours” Determine if a Remote Worker is Covered?

Defining when someone is considered to be working including detours to say use the bathroom or make a cup of coffee, can help make it clear when an injury is compensable. If an injury occurs during a frolic when a work from homer acts on their personal needs, then the injury would not be considered compensable.

Are Independent Contractors Covered By Workers Compensation with Remote Work?

An employed remote worker is on the payroll and entitled to the same benefits of their coworkers working at the office site. However, an independent contractor is not considered an employee and therefore workers’ compensation does not cover work-related injuries.