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Working remotely, or telecommuting, offers numerous benefits for both employees and employers; companies can hire qualified workers from distant locations and employees can save money on gas and make their own hours. It is a good option for many, and some can split their workweeks between their employer’s office and their home offices.
There are important considerations to understand for both sides, one regarding Workers’ Compensation insurance. Although state laws vary, every organization is required by law to have a remote Workers’ Compensation plan. Companies that do not have these plans in place can be sued by employees.
Workers’ Compensation provides benefits to employees that experience work-related illnesses and injuries. Employers make payments into the fund, and compensation is provided for injuries that occur during work hours on work property. This includes medical benefits, including surgery, hospitalization and prescriptions, temporary or permanent disabilities, and death benefits.
However, some compensation plans also cover no-fault workers. This means that some can cover situations where the injury was caused as a result of the worker’s negligence. Benefits are not provided for pain and suffering, and independent contractors do not have Workers’ Compensation coverage.
Different states have certain restrictions for mandatory coverage. Some specify the number of employees an organization must have to maintain Workers’ Compensation. Others state that the injury must occur within the course of employment to be covered. Insurance providers will also take the circumstances, location, and timing of the injury into consideration. Based on this, a worker that is injured while working from their home office can receive similar compensation to one that was working on-site.
Since remote workers are not visually supervised, companies may have to find ways to manage them. This can be done through a comprehensive telecommuter policy that defines the remote work environment and responsibilities. Some employers use cameras for monitoring purposes and conduct periodic inspections to ensure worker safety. The latter can include checking for fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and adequate lighting and ventilation.
Working hours should also be specified, since injuries that do not occur during this time will not be compensable. Cameras and computer software can also track this information. It is also important for the company to clearly define what the job role and responsibilities are.
Remote workers may be tempted to spend some of their working hours on personal business, which can complicate matters. The employer may still be responsible for an injury that occurs while the worker is not at their desk if they only left their duties for a short amount of time. If the employee physically departs from their work area for a longer period of time and gets hurt, there may be no coverage.
If you were injured at work, contact an experienced Bear, DE Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. We will evaluate your case and fight for the benefits you deserve for your injuries. For a free case evaluation, call us at 302-834-8484 or complete our online form. Located in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.