While America’s not at the stage (yet) where every office job can be done entirely from home, more and more workers are performing their jobs out of home offices at least part of the time.
If you’re one of them, don’t be fooled into believing that you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation when you’re injured on the job. Here’s what every work-at-home employee needs to know about workers’ comp benefits and their rights:
“Telecommuting” is the same as being at work
Although the term “telecommuting” is a little outdated, it’s often used to describe employees who work at least part of the time at home — which is about 37 percent (or more) of the American workforce.
Under the law, your employer has to provide you with the same workers’ compensation coverage that you enjoy in the office while you are on the job at home.
Your injury has to happen during work
Obviously, you can’t claim workers’ compensation unless your injury is work-related. You can expect your employer to heavily scrutinize any injury claim you make, so protect yourself by confining your work activity to actual work hours.
In other words, if you aren’t on the clock, don’t give your employer your time. That way, you won’t find yourself trying to justify a workers’ comp claim over a fall that happened at two in the morning after you woke up thinking about a project you wanted to finish.
Protect yourself by reporting injuries immediately
Your first concern after an injury is your health and safety. Your second concern needs to be making a report to your employer. Your credibility is going to be critical for any workers’ comp claim that you make as a telecommuter, so don’t delay either your medical care or your report. If you do, you give the insurance company a lot of room to argue that your injury might have happened when you weren’t actually on the clock.
Workers’ compensation claims by at-home employees are always going to be difficult and depend on the circumstances involved. If you’re unsure of your case, a workers’ compensation attorney can review it and help you determine its strengths and weaknesses.