If I Work From Home, Am I Covered By Workers Comp?
With the Covid-19 pandemic pushing many employees into a work from home situation, the question of whether or not workers’ comp covers you if you are working from home has become a common one. As is the case with many different legal situations, the answer will depend on the specifics of your situation, including exactly how you were injured and other circumstances that may be taken into account.
Proving Your Injury Was Work-Related
In order for you to successfully make a workers comp claim if you are injured while working at home, there are several things that you must be able to prove. These things include but are not limited to, the following:
- An essential aspect of filing a workers’ comp claim if injured while at home is to prove that your employer approved of you working from home. So if you have started working from home, it is always good to have that approval in writing from your boss or manager.
- That your injury occurred while you were performing an activity directly related to doing your job at home—Let’s look at an example of when this may be the case and when it may not. If you developed carpal tunnel resulting from working on a computer in your home, it would most likely be covered as the injury was due to work-related activity. If you leave your home office to shovel the driveway, slip, and hurt your wrist, it is less likely to be covered.
- You need to prove that your employer required you to perform the activity resulting in an injury. Falling in your driveway while on your way to mail a package for work would likely be covered by workers comp in the case that your manager asked you to mail it.
New York Workers Comp Board Working From Home Previous Rulings
New York Workers Comp Board has in the past determined that “Employees who work from home, outside the direct physical control of their employers, are potentially able to alternate between work-related and personal activities when they choose. For this reason, injuries sustained by employees working from home should only be found to be compensable when they occur during the employee’s regular work hours and while the employee is ‘actually performing her employment duties.” The Board further clarified that “taking a short break, getting something to eat, exercising or using the bathroom” are examples of activities not considered typical employment duties. Besides exercising, these are the types of activities that the Board would usually consider a “momentary deviation” from employment if they happened in an employer-controlled workspace. In that case, any injuries sustained while performing those activities would be considered compensable under workers’ comp laws. However, the Board has made a clear distinction that the same rule does not apply when the employee is working from home. When working from home, those same activities will be considered purely personal activities, outside the scope of employment. As a result, injuries sustained while doing those same activities are non-compensable.
As we have mentioned before, but especially if you are injured while working at home, it is critical that you select a doctor to evaluate and treat your injuries who is familiar with the New York Workers Comp process to ensure the appropriate documentation is completed correctly to maximize your chance of a workers comp claim being approved. If you are injured while working at home and need a workers comp doctor in Queens, New York, or the Tri-State area, the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center is experienced in dealing with workers comp cases and can help.
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