Most of the labor force worldwide has shifted to a work-from-home setup. It used to be a privilege to be able to work from home. But now, it’s a necessity for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, this new setup is a good thing since, to some extent, it can be time-efficient and cost-effective.
But there are still looming concerns over working from home. For example, many remote workers wonder if they’re still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits while working from home or anywhere else aside from the office. And the answer is yes.
Work-from-home is Relatively Safer
Working from home is often deemed to be safer than working at an office. You get to control your environment, so your risk of common workplace injuries is lower. For example, you can ensure that your floors are always dry so that you don’t risk slipping. You can also easily take breaks to stretch and move around to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
Apart from controlling your environment, you can avoid certain risks by working from home. For example, work-related vehicular injuries are greatly minimized. You also lower your risk of cuts and punctures caused by machinery.
Injuries Can Still Occur at Home
But accidents and injuries can occur anywhere. Whether you’re in the bedroom or living room, you might still slip and fall and get injured while doing work. One real-life example is the Sandberg v. JC Penney case. An employee who was working from home tripped while moving inventory in her garage. Her fall resulted in a fracture, for which she received compensation.
If you don’t have a proper office setup at home, you’re at risk of ergonomics-related injuries. Some examples are carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and chronic back pain. Interestingly, these injuries made up 33% of all worker injury and illness cases back in 2013.
Work injuries don’t just include physical issues but mental issues as well. Working from home can be stressful for many. Employees are working longer hours because the line between work and home has become very transparent. The current economic and political climate can also burden employees. Such events may result in psychiatric injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Employees are covered by workers’ compensation benefits by default, except for self-employed individuals and independent contractors. This coverage includes the following benefits:
- payment for medical bills
- wage loss benefits
- disability benefits
- vocational rehabilitation benefits
- death benefits
Proving that an injury occurred while at work is much easier if you work in an office. You can easily get evidence, such as surveillance footage or eyewitness accounts. That said, claiming benefits for at-home injuries will take more work. It’s your word against theirs. It also doesn’t help that there are people who fake compensation claims. But it’s not impossible. For example, in the Sandberg v. JC Penney case, the employee’s claim was denied at first. The employee successfully received compensation after an appeal.
Whether you’re claiming benefits for mental disability or physical injury, you need to file insurance forms as soon as you can. Doing so will add credibility to your claim. You will also need to prove that the injury occurred while you’re doing work-related tasks at home. For instance, you’ll have to clearly explain what you were doing when the injury occurred and when it happened.
Just because an accident or an injury happened at home doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with work. This is especially true during this time when most of the workforce is required to work from home. Injuries and accidents can happen anywhere and anytime. And as an employee, it is your right to be compensated for them.