Workers' Comp and Remote Employees

Working from Home vs. the Office 

It’s the great debate- to work at home, or the office. While both have their pros and cons, many employees find themselves split on preferences. With more and more employers adopting flexible and hybrid work models, it would seem as though employees now have more options on where they work than they ever have. For employees, working from home brings many conveniences- less time commuting means more free time, and working from home could mean more time spent with family or pets.

For employers, however, the working from home model or hybrid model can present complications- especially when it comes to workers’ comp requirements and claims. How can employers help their teams create a safe environment while working remotely? How does workers’ compensation work for remote employees? If you are an employer scratching your head over these questions, the following information should help you gain some insight on how  workers’ compensation coverage works with remote employees.

Is Workers’ Comp Required for Remote Employees? 

First off- is workers’ comp coverage required for remote employees? If you live in a state where workers’ compensation is already required for employees, then this also includes remote workers. If you haven’t already, familiarizing yourself with your state’s workers comp mandates is a good place to start.

What Does a Workers’ Comp Policy Cover? 

Typically, a workers’ comp policy can help your employees that are injured or become ill because of work related events by covering their medical bills, as well as ongoing care costs for things like physical therapy. Workers’ comp policies usually provide some form of wage replacement benefits for employees who miss work due to covered injuries or illnesses. It is important to review your workers’ compensation policy with a local agent to see what it covers.

How Does Workers’ Comp Work for Remote Employees? 

While remote workers are generally included in workers’ comp policies, in order for an insurance company to cover an injury or illness, it usually must bear some relationship to the worker’s employment. While state workers’ compensation laws and individual policies vary, language often used to define what incidents may or may not be covered is whether it occurred “in the scope and course of employment.” If an employee injures themselves during work hours, but the injury was caused by actions completely outside of their scope of work, the injury may not be covered. It should be noted that state laws differ, so employers should define an employee’s specific job duties, as well as their normal working hours. Any questions about whether a certain illness or injury might be covered by the workers’ compensation laws of a specific state or a particular insurance policy should be discussed with a qualified independent attorney.

What Can an Employer Do If a Remote Employee Injures Themselves at Home? 

First, as an employer, you should educate your remote employees on how to report work-related injuries in a timely manner. Ideally incidents should be reported to an insurance carrier within 24 hours. If an injury does happen at home, here are some steps you can take as an employer to notify your insurance carrier.

  • Address Medical Needs: If an injury has occurred, confirm that the employee is no longer in harm’s way, and encourage them to seek medical help if necessary.
  • Gather Facts: Get the who, what, when, where, and why of the incident. Ask the employee what happened, where they were and what they were doing when the injury took place, if they sought medical help, and if there were any witnesses.
  • Report: Once you know the details of the incident, immediately report the incident to your insurance carrier. Depending on what state your business is located in, you may also need to report the incident to your state’s workers’ comp board.

Returning to Work After an Injury 

After reporting an injury or illness, as time progresses, you will want to notify your employee of the next steps. Creating a return-to-work policy that can help injured employees get back to work is an important step that your business should take. Some key things to focus on when creating a return-to-work policy are eligibility, as well as transitional job positions. The employee may have work restrictions from their treating physician. Modifications may have to be made to their work area, and work assignments may have to temporarily be changed. As an employer, it may be beneficial to offer a flexible schedule for a designated time as part of the return-to-work process.

Home Office Safety Tips 

There are several steps that you can take to reduce the chances of remote workers getting injured at home. First, putting together a remote work agreement that outlines policies for working remotely is a good place to start. Before starting remote work, providing employees with a checklist can help them create a safer working environment. Some items you could include are:

  • Walkways and workspace free of clutter and other safety hazards
  • Electrical cords tucked away and secured
  • Electrical cords and panels in good condition
  • Computer screen free of glare
  • Workspace is adequately lit and has a proper ergonomic setup

Review Your Business Insurance Policies 

While workers’ compensation coverage helps protect your employees, don’t neglect the other aspects of your business that may also need protection. With businesses becoming increasingly reliant on technology, possible data breaches are becoming less of an “if” and more of a “when”. If your business keeps financial data, stores confidential customer information, or handles credit card numbers, shopping cyber insurance is a smart move. For added liability protection for your business, a commercial umbrella policy can cover costs that go beyond your other coverage liability limits, such as attorney fees when your company faces a lawsuit. Because every business is unique, reviewing the policies that your business has with a local insurance agent can give you an idea of what policies you should consider.

Workers’ Comp and Business Insurance Quotes 

When it comes to finding insurance coverage for your business, it helps to have options. At Cross Insurance, we work with the nation’s top insurance carriers as well as regional insurers. We can help your business find options for workers’ compensation, cyber coverages, and more. You can connect with a local agent at one of our offices in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, or Florida.

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This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose. Cross Insurance shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained in this article. The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, insurance, accounting or other professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice. The views expressed in this article are that of its author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cross Financial Corp. and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“Cross Insurance”) or Cross Insurance’s management or shareholders.

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