Are Remote Workers Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Remote work was already on the rise over the past few decades, thanks to advances in technology.
Now, due to COVID-19, even more employees are working from home. Some may come back when their offices reopen, but others hope to continue telecommuting permanently; they appreciate the flexibility that telecommuting allows.
If you are working remotely, whether temporarily or permanently, you might have wondered how workers’ compensation works. You might know already that workers’ compensation covers employee injuries sustained in the workplace. But what if the workplace is your home? Are remote workers’ covered by workers’ compensation?
Today, we’re answering that important question. Keep reading to learn more.
Workers’ Compensation & Remote Workers
Does workers’ compensation cover remote workers? The good news is that the answer is yes.
Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for on-the-job injuries and work-related illnesses—regardless of whether they work at a desk at headquarters, at the company factory, or in their home office.
That said, there are a few things you need to know about workers’ compensation for remote employees.
Traveling for Work
While employees are generally not covered by workers’ comp while they commute to work (called the “to-and-from rule”), remote workers sometimes are. Work-from-home employees traveling to their employer’s location, such as for a meeting or training, may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you are injured in a car accident on the way to the office, or after a slip and fall in the company parking lot, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation.
Remote Employee or Independent Contractor?
As we mentioned above, workers’ compensation covers remote employees. However, independent contractors (also known as freelance workers) are not covered—whether they work in or out of the office.
Because of this, knowing which category you’re in is vital. Does your employer consider you an employee or an independent contractor? If it’s the latter, you won’t be eligible for benefits after a work-related injury.
If you’re not sure which classification applies to you, consider the following:
- Does the employer control when and how you do your job?
- Does the employer purchase your supplies and tools to do the job?
- Are you paid by the hour, week, or other period of time (rather than by the project)?
- Do you work for only one employer (rather than for a variety of companies in the market)?
If you answered “yes” to the questions above, it’s possible that an employee-employer relationship exists.
Finally, it’s important to note that employers can “misclassify” employees. This occurs when an employer classifies an employee as an independent contractor, in order to deny them access to benefits (like workers’ comp, overtime compensation, and FMLA leave) and protections. This happens more often than you think! (You can learn more in a previous post on worker misclassification.)
If you believe you’ve been misclassified, a qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to.
The “Gray Area” of Remote Workers’ Comp
While it’s true that remote workers are legally entitled to workers’ comp, actually getting benefits can sometimes be tricky.
That’s because work-from-home injuries can be harder to prove.
For example, if you are injured on the employer’s premises, it’s likely than a coworker or supervisor witnessed the accident and saw your injuries. These witnesses can provide evidence that your claim is legitimate.
At home, however, there might be no witnesses, or the witnesses might be family members. As a result, an employer may be less likely to believe the claim and more likely to challenge it.
In addition, there are other considerations that can affect a remote worker’s claim, like whether you were injured during work hours or whether you were actually performing work at the time of your injury. For example, if you decide to clean your gutters during a work break and sustain a fall, you may not be covered.
When Your Employer Fights Your Claim
Employers who want to avoid a workers’ compensation claim sometimes try to mislead their remote workers about their rights. They may also decide to fight the claim.
If that is happening in your case, a workers’ compensation attorney experienced in work-from-home claims can help.
A qualified lawyer will inform you of your rights, collect evidence for your injuries, and argue your claim. With help from a lawyer, you can protect your right to workers’ compensation and receive the benefits you need and deserve after an injury.
Contact Casper & Casper
If you have questions about workers’ compensation as a remote worker, or need help filing a successful workers’ comp claim, call us today. We would be happy to answer your questions and work with you. We’re here to help.