During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have worked from home for periods of time.
Some workers have happily settled into WFH routines. Some have questions about whether their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance covers them if they are injured while working at home. The short answer is Yes. Workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured while performing job duties. The location where you are performing job duties when injured is not a factor.
Workers have routinely obtained workers’ comp benefits after suffering injuries on business trips, or while making deliveries, or while visiting clients. If you have been injured in an accident while performing job duties at home, you deserve workers’ compensation benefits just as if you had been injured in your office or on a construction site. But don’t be surprised if the workers’ comp insurance administrator raises questions.
If you have been injured while working from home and are getting any pushback about obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, you should speak to an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. In Kentucky, a workers’ compensation lawyer from Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer can provide the Kentucky Courage you need to fight for your rights and the full benefits provided by law. Contact us today to set up your free consultation.
Typical KY Workers’ Compensation Coverage Eligibility
In the state of Kentucky, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance or be self-insured, regardless of the number of people they employ or whether the workers are full-time or part-time. Certain agricultural employers are exempt from Kentucky’s workers’ compensation program. Independent contractors, domestic workers, and most volunteers also are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to cover employees who suffer physical injuries or occupational diseases arising out of their employment. This does not include injuries suffered while commuting to and from work, such as in a car accident. But it does include injuries suffered during travel that are a part of job duties, such as making deliveries or driving to meet with a customer.
Illness is covered if the infirmity is caused by conditions of the workplace, including illnesses that develop over time. Illnesses that are a part of the natural aging process are not covered.
WFH Likely to Be an Ongoing Trend in Some Employment Sectors
A December 2020 Pew Research Center survey found that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 20% of all employed people whose jobs could be done from home actually worked from home all or most of the time. That number had increased to 71% by the end of 2020, with 54% saying they would prefer to continue working from home after the pandemic ends.
But this only works for some people. A majority of workers told Pew their job responsibilities cannot be done from home. Most upper-income workers can do their work on a computer from home, but most lower- and middle-income workers cannot. While 62% of workers with a bachelor’s degree or more education say their work can be done from home, only 23% of those without a four-year college degree make the claim.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in February 2021 that one of its major assumptions looking ahead is that telecommuting will be offered on a more permanent basis. “According to an analysis, working from home is generally feasible in management, professional and administrative support jobs, including those in the information, financial activities, professional and business services, and public administration industries.”
How Does Workers’ Compensation Apply to WFH Employees?
In a challenge to your claim, the questions would focus on whether your injury did in fact arise from your job duties or whether you were acting in your employer’s interests when the accident happened.
For people working from home, the lines between work life and personal life can get blurry. An employer might challenge a work-at-home injury. What happens if an employee trips over one of their child’s toys while on the clock and is injured in the fall?
“Courts have found that an employer’s lack of control over the conditions of an employee’s home-based work premises is irrelevant,” the pro-employer Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says. “When an employee’s home is also an employee’s work premises, it is often interpreted that the hazards an employee encounters when performing work at home are also hazards of his or her employment.”
In other words, courts see the employee’s home as an extension of the workplace if the employer has agreed to a work-at-home arrangement.
In another look at workers’ compensation obligations for employees working from home, SHRM says employers should set a telecommuting policy that outlines the employer’s expectations for employees who work from home, including:
- Expected work product
- Expected job location
- Job hours and how the employee clocks in and out
- Allowed break times
A work-from-home agreement would protect employees, as well, and is something to consider suggesting if you are working at home without applicable company policies.
SHRM says the employer’s first defense against a workers’ comp claim will center on whether the teleworker gave appropriate notice to a supervisor of the injury. We advise that you or someone acting on your behalf should report a workplace injury within a week of the accident, though legally you have up to 30 days.
SHRM also suggests that employers check with their workers’ compensation and general liability insurance carriers to ensure that all appropriate coverages apply to employees who work from home.
Contact a KY Workers’ Compensation Attorney
You are covered by workers’ compensation insurance and Kentucky workers’ comp laws if you are an employee working from home in Kentucky. If you have been injured while on the job and are out of work because of the injury, you should inform yourself about the benefits available to you by speaking with a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer.
Report your injury to your employer and contact the Kentucky workers’ compensation lawyers of Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer. We’ll show them what Kentucky Courage is as we fight for you. Contact us online or at (877) 809-5352 for a free initial consultation and dedicated representation.