While the majority of attorneys still find themselves in law offices across the country, there is a growing telecommuting trend that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. As little as a generation ago, there may have been a stigma around those who work from home — that they didn’t care as much, or weren’t as serious about their jobs — but that stigma is slowly beginning to fade.
Lawyers are notorious for always being on the job – whether in the office, the courtroom, jails, or even on vacation. Is predominantly working from home really that much of a stretch?
Technological advancements in email, video conferencing, and cloud storage have not only made working from home more possible but also, in some cases, more profitable and preferable.
But what does that mean for workers’ compensation claims? If your employees work from home, could they still file a workers’ comp claim if they injure themselves on the job?
Workers’ Comp and Telecommuting
Solo practitioners may have started the trend of working from home but they are no longer the only ones. But if your employees get injured while working from home, should you expect a workers’ comp claim?
Recently, a Florida woman who works from home filed a workers’ comp claim after she tripped over her dog while reaching for a cup of coffee in her own kitchen during work hours. While this might seem like a simple issue, the case is now going before the Florida Supreme Court.
According to Law Shelf, “For an injury to be compensable under workers’ compensation law, it must be work-related. In many states, this means that the employee must prove that the injury both: 1) arose out of the employment, and 2) occurred in the course of employment.” These guidelines apply whether the employee works in an employer-provided office space or from their home.
What You Can Do
As a firm owner, one of the most important things you can do is to set guidelines and expectations for every aspect of your business. This includes having a designated work area and setting fixed work hours and break periods, if you have employees that work remotely, these guidelines and policies should also extend to them.
Additionally, your firm may want to consider providing training on how to properly set up an at-home workstation and then follow up as needed with in-home checks. Following these procedures may help your employees avoid an unnecessary injury and keep them from filing a workers comp claim to begin with.