Technology has made it possible for many employees to accomplish their work from anywhere in the world. Accordingly, the number of workers who report doing some or all of their work from home has increased dramatically in the last decade. A 2018 study reported that more than 60 percent of workers spend at least one day a week working from home and almost 50 percent of employees work half the week away from the office location.
This trend has enormous implications for Workers’ Compensation, which traditionally deals with work injuries that happened on site. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act covers anyone who is hurt within the course and scope of employment. To be covered, the injury must have happened while the employee was doing work for the employer; the location is less relevant.
One problem for employees who choose to work from home is that if they are injured and want to file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, they must prove how and when the injury happened. This is usually easier to do in a workplace setting where there might be witnesses or even security camera footage. However, the Pennsylvania courts have been supportive of workers injured at home while performing duties for their employer. In a case involving a remote worker for Verizon, the Commonwealth Court determined that the worker’s home office had been deemed an approved secondary work premise and awarded the worker benefits for her work injury.
An issue that arises for employers when a worker is doing their job remotely and off-site is the lack of control over the work environment. For instance, ergonomically correct workstations available in the office can help prevent injuries that happen over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Short of performing a home inspection, employers have no way of knowing the working conditions of someone working remotely.
Employers can help ensure the safety of their home workers by establishing home office guidelines and where possible, performing periodic home office checks to identify and eliminate safety risks and hazards. Ergonomically correct working conditions are critical for avoiding long term health problems in the remote workforce.
If you work from home and suffered a work-related injury, you may be eligible for compensation. At Gross & Kenny, LLP, we focus solely on helping injured workers and we will fight to obtain the benefits you need to recover and get back to work. Call 267-589-0090 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across Pennsylvania.