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Working from home: who’s responsible for injuries?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Rather than shut down, many businesses across the country implemented policies enabling employees to work remotely during the pandemic. Although you might have been able to work from home on occasion before the coronavirus factored into day-to-day operations, shelter-in-place orders likely altered your routine.

Whether you miss the office camaraderie or feel more productive in pajamas, it’s too soon to attach an end date to current allowances. However, working remotely has increased by 173% since 2005. Chances are, even after the virus runs its course, the coming years will see companies increase adaptations and allow for greater flexibility.

From a national perspective, what do we know about working from home?

For more than 460,000 workers with a disability, working from home is considered a reasonable accommodation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Meanwhile, 80% of employees would prefer to have the option to work from home, at least occasionally.

Reports suggest that:

  • 33% of workers would be willing to accept a pay decrease in exchange for working from home
  • 35% of the workforce would accept a new position if it allowed the opportunity to work remotely
  • 43% of employees frequently perform their work from a remote location

These statistics represent research conducted before the pandemic and do not include self-employment. Therefore, it’s probably safe to speculate the current numbers are significantly higher. As such, what provisions remain in effect for workers in a home workspace?

Workers’ compensation was designed to cover illness and injuries experienced while completing your job duties

In terms of New York workers’ compensation benefits, coverage applies to “injuries and illnesses that arise out of and in the course of employment.” Therefore, injuries sustained while working from home could qualify.

Employees may now have some responsibility in maintaining a safe workplace environment. However, since employers cannot inspect and improve remote offices, they may provide a checklist for workers to minimize risks while working from home.

While completing your regular work duties, remember you may have protection – regardless of where you complete your tasks. If injuries happen, you have the right to explore your options and seek out the help you need.