Early 2020, a lot of offices closed their doors and made their employees transition from office to remote work. But at the end of the year, the majority of those employees ended up doing their jobs completely from home. More people now prefer this working structure and choose to remain doing so even after the pandemic subsides.
But as a business owner and an employer, this work structure can be quite challenging in many aspects. One concern that comes to mind for remote workers is workers’ compensation insurance and how such can be applied in a home environment. Here is what you need to know and how to create a safe home-based work environment.
Does Workers' Compensation Cover Remote Workers?
Yes! Overall, no matter where the injury takes place, an employee injury or illness is eligible under workers’ compensation if it “arises out of and in the course of “ employment. This means, any employed staff can claim worker’s compensation for any injury that occurs while doing work-related tasks. In-office employees, remote workers, and virtual staff often have to prove if that injury relates to work or not. “Occurring out of” pertains to the things the employee did at the time of injury, and “in the course of” refers to when that injury occurred.
An employee may successfully claim benefits from workers’ compensation if the injury occurred at the time they acted in the employer’s interest. According to the courts, it is irrelevant if the employer has no control of the environmental condition or situation where the employee works. But when the employee considers their home as a work area, they may encounter the same hazards that occur working in an office. As an employer, you are responsible in ensuring a safe working environment for remote staff as if they are employees reporting to work within the company’s facilities.
Employer Practices to Limit Workers' Compensation Liability for Remote Staff
Create a Telecommuting Policy
This policy is similar to setting specific directives that remote workers can follow at home
- Set expectations by implementing regular status updates, virtual communication, and web-hosted meetings
- Define the employee’s tasks, roles, and responsibilities
Establish Guidelines for a Home Office
Let your employees sign an agreement outlining the guidelines for their at-home work environment. These would include:
- Following all company policies
- Allocate a dedicated workspace at home free from distractions
- Provide specifications on logistical requirements for remote workspace :
- Appropriate equipment such as computer or laptop and noise-canceling headset
- Adequate lighting
- Ergonomically designed desk, chair, and closeable door
Conduct Periodic Checks
Make a home safety checklist that includes the following physical hazards:
- Poor lighting in the workplace
- Overloading electrical outlets with too many gadgets
- Loose cords and messy cables
- Eliminate clutter
- Provide remote staff with tips on how to reduce potential hazards
- Pet proofing the workspace
Set Fixed Work Hours
Remote workers are often faced with difficulty tracking their work hours. For the benefit of both employee and employer you may consider these :
- Make use of a time monitoring software
- Document the work hours, such as clock in and out virtually
- Set meal and rest periods
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely became the new normal. Maintaining an employed staff whether in-office or virtual, make sure to include a workers’ compensation coverage. Always keep them safe regardless of their location. Set clear expectations and create your telecommuting policies.
Looking for the right healthcare virtual staff provider for your business? Contact Phoenix Virtual Solutions today to get quotes on our staffing solutions and services. You can be assured our outsourced staff are working safely in the comfort of their homes.