Even before the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way we live and work, the U.S. workforce was increasing the number of workers who did their jobs from their own homes. But when COVID-19 hit, the rate of telecommuting grew exponentially out of necessity.
Some experts suggest that nearly half of the U.S. workforce worked from home during the peak of the pandemic.
A recent Global Workplace Analytics survey showed that around 97 percent of workers were doing their job from home. What’s more, 82 percent of those surveyed wanted to continue to do so after the pandemic finally ends.
While less common than workplace accidents, working from home poses its own unique challenges and risks for an injury. This begs the question:
If someone is working remotely and gets hurt, are they still eligible for workers’ compensation?
There isn’t a cut and dry “yes” answer to this question, unfortunately.
For example, here in Georgia, remote workers are generally covered under workers’ compensation; however, coverage for the injury will all boil down to whether the employee was injured doing an activity that is directly related to their job.
If an employee left their work computer in their car and fell when they went outside to retrieve it, they may be just as eligible for workers’ compensation as they would have been if they fell while walking in their office.
On the other hand, if that same employee falls off a ladder while changing a blown light bulb一even if it’s during working hours and the light is necessary to see what they’re working on一their employer’s insurance company might not accept responsibility for covering their injuries.
That being said, whether or not a specific injury should be covered by workers’ comp will depend on the particulars of the injury. An at-home work injury should be properly documented and reported to the employer as soon as possible, ideally within 30 days.
Remote workers’ compensation specifics
Thankfully, Georgia workers who work remotely are eligible for workers’ compensation if they are injured in work-related injuries, regardless of where their injury occurs. Unfortunately, we’ve found that insurance companies commonly dispute these claims since they happened outside of the traditional workplace.
As with all work injuries, attorneys for clients who were injured while working from home must prove that:
- The injury was work-related
- The injury occurred during scheduled working hours (Lunchtime injuries aren’t covered)
Those who are injured while working remotely may want to consider the severity of their injury before filing for compensation. If an injury is severe enough that it would require being placed on light-duty, compensation benefits may be denied because a worker’s remote position may already be considered light-duty, and would, therefore, not require the injured worker to rest.
Workers’ compensation is rarely straightforward, especially during a pandemic when so many people are working outside of their usual place of employment. When legal challenges arise, this is precisely when it’s up to experienced attorneys to step in and guide injured workers through their rights and responsibilities.