Workers’ Compensation for Telecommuters

Working from home has significant benefits for both employees and employers. It can make employees’ lives easier – saving money, time and stress – and it can lower employers’ costs as well. But what happens when an employee is injured on the job while the job is at home?

Workers’ compensation benefits are possible for telecommuters, as two recent cases show. In one case, a woman who tripped over her dog as she was carrying fabric samples at her home secured workers’ compensation benefits. In another case, a woman who spent long stretches in her home, working at her work computer, died of a blood clot; her family won workers’ compensation survivor benefits.

Although this is an evolving area of the law, workers who work at home should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when the injuries arise from employment.

What if You Are Injured While Working at Home?

Traditional guidelines apply for workers who are injured while they are on the job at home: seek medical attention right away; report the injury to the employer; and keep careful records.

Potential issues that a worker may have to deal with include showing that his or her activities at the time of the injury were work-related. Employers may be suspicious that a worker is engaging in fraud, especially because the worker was offsite when the injury occurred. An injured telecommuter may face intense scrutiny from an employer, especially if the employer is unprepared to deal with these workers’ compensation claims. In such cases, the worker should consult with an attorney who is experienced in such matters.

Approximately 20 percent of the workforce is working outside the traditional office setting. As more employees telecommute in Detroit, Michigan, and across the country, telecommuter workers’ compensation claims are sure to become more common.