When the world opened its door to COVID-19, offices around the globe started moving their employees out of the office. The culture of remote work or work from home, which had minimum existence before the pandemic, has now taken over as the primary work culture for most. When asked, 4 out of every 5 Americans shared that even though their work was easily doable from remote locations, they weren’t allowed to do so before the pandemic. But now in a recent survey , it is estimated that around 71% of people are working from home and they would like to continue even after covid-19 is over.
Employers on the other hand are a worried pack, they are stressed over the safety of the household and also about how any workers’ comp policy can cover damages of employees doing work from home. Let’s delve deeper into this topic-
Remote employees are eligible for workers’ compensation if they have suffered the illness or injury while working in their allotted hours. Remote workers have the “burden of proof” which means that they should be able to showcase that the injury or illness caused has been due to the work of the employee. The courts have clarified that even if the employer has no control over their employees’ home environment, they cannot deny the claim!
Hence, employers are required to offer the same workers’ compensation insurance for their remote and working from the office team.
Some of the common injuries that work from home employees can suffer from are-
The pain and sufferings induced by regular movement and overstressing of physical muscles for a prolonged period of time are referred to as cumulative injuries. Tendonitis, Carpal tunnel syndrome and extreme back pain are some of the common cumulative injuries. When muscles, nerves, and tendons are strained for long hours due to the poor ergonomics of the workstation, such injuries may result.
As per a report from National Safety Council, these are some of the widely reported accidents in the US. When you lose footing and balance, you slip. In the same way, when you stumble upon any unknown object, you trip over it and it may/may not lead to a “fall”. Also, a fall can happen when you seek support from an object such as railings on the stair and it either breaks or is not even present.
Generally speaking, the workers’ compensation doesn’t cover claims that are made for a community spread disease such as the coronavirus as they cannot be connected to the workplace. Some states extend their support to the workers if they suffer from health illnesses such as cancer as it results from prolonged exposure to harmful materials and air in the workplace. On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 . Now, the Federal workers can claim their covid-19 treatment costs under Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Section 4016 of the Act further reinstates the fact that federal employees who have been in the frontline workforce or have been affected by COVID-19 due to work, deserve to get rightful workers’ compensation.
Note- Any claim for COVID-19 filed under FECA, which got rejected before March 12th, 2021, can be re-submitted for evaluation as per new eligibility criteria.
As the world steadily keeps getting vaccinated, the future will also see a lot of work from home culture. Employers won’t take the risk of letting every employee to the office right at this moment. Hence, it is essential for the employees to ensure that they work in a safe environment in their homes.
If you feel your rights are violated and you are being denied a justified workers’ compensation claim, get a workers comp attorney right now. The Legal Helpers will make your search easier and faster. Fill out the form now!