One thing we learned from the pandemic is that many of us can do our jobs from home just as well as we do in the office. The year 2020 proved to businesses that they could be adaptable and taught employees to embrace work-life balance. As more organizations continue to allow permanent work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements, employees may ask if workers’ compensation applies outside the office.
Fortunately, remote employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act if they suffer injuries “in the course and scope of employment.” However, because remote employees can easily switch between work and personal activities, this is where things can become tricky.
How does workers’ comp apply to work-from-home employees?
Workers’ compensation should apply whether you suffer an injury within or outside the company’s premises. If you are hurt while doing work-related activities, you must notify your employer immediately. You will also carry the burden of proving that you sustained the injury while working.
Demonstrating an occupational injury can be difficult because you are not in an office. However, routinely working from home may help establish that it is a place of employment. For instance, if the company permits you to work every Monday to Tuesday at home, your company should compensate you for any injuries you sustain while on the clock.
However, your injuries may not be compensable if you were simply checking your email over dinner at home.
Below are some examples of when workers’ comp may apply:
- Employee sustains an injury while engaging in an activity their job requires
- Employer benefits from activities the employee was engaging in that led to the injury
- Employee suffers an injury during a work break (workers’ comp covers injuries that occur during office breaks and should apply if you work from home)
- Employee gets an injury while doing a work-related activity such as setting up their work equipment at home
- Employee develops cumulative or repetitive strain injury (RSI), such as carpal tunnel syndrome, while completing work duties from home
While working from home eliminates the need for some potentially hazardous tasks, it still leaves you open to cumulative injuries as well as slip and falls. If you suffer an injury while working remotely, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, if your company refuses to acknowledge your claim, you may want to see a lawyer.