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Workers’ Comp for Remote Employees

Is Your Team Remote? You Still Need Workers' Comp for Remote Employees

By Steve Donovan on Jun 17, 2024
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Businesses across the globe are adjusting to a permanent transition to remote and hybrid work. During this transition, it’s normal to wonder: what will this shift change, and what will remain unchanged? 

In this post, we’ll discuss how the influx of remote work affects your workers’ comp obligations as an employer, walking through some of the most common questions from small businesses one by one. We’ll also show you where to turn for questions about workers’ comp for remote employees, including how you can keep premiums low. 

RELATED:Workers' Compensation Laws in Kansas and Missouri >> 

Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp for Remote Employees 

Q: Do You Need Workers’ Comp for Remote Employees? 

In a word, yes. Even if your entire team is remote, if you otherwise meet your state’s requirements mandating that you carry coverage, you still need workers’ comp for remote employees. 

Injuries while the employee works from home may still be covered under your workers’ compensation insurance, depending on whether the injury was work-related and arose “out of and in the course of employment.”

As we’ll discuss, determining compensability involving workers’ comp for remote employees can be tricky, but insurance coverage is still a requirement. 

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Q: What Types of Injuries Might Occur During Remote Work? 

The typical workplace injury isn’t one you’d imagine happening while an employee is behind a desk, but that doesn’t mean problems can’t occur while an employee is working remotely.

Here are some of the most common remote work injuries, which, depending on a host of factors, may form the basis for a valid workers’ compensation claim: 

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Carpal tunnel syndrome from typing, using a computer mouse or other repetitive movements. 
  • Eye Strain

    Eye strain or vision problems from looking at a computer or other screen without adequate breaks. 
  • Electric Shocks

    Electric shocks from faulty home office equipment.
  • Tripping Hazards

    Stumbling over a computer or cable or a piece of equipment used for work purposes.
  • Back Strains

    Back strains caused by setting up employer-required home office equipment.

  • Improper Workspaces

    Neck, back and spinal pain, which often occurs as a result of working from an employee’s bed, living room furniture, dining room table or other unsuitable locations.
  • Chair Falls

    Falling out of an office chair while on the clock.
  • Neck Strains

    Neck strains and pain from gazing downward at a computer screen.
  • Psychological Injuries

    Psychological injuries from stress or anxiety caused by the working environment.

RELATED: Risk Management Strategies: How a PEO Can Transform Your Approach 

Q: How Will My State’s Workers’ Comp Board Be Able to Tell if a Home Injury Is Truly Work-Related? 

The key deciding factor for whether an injury is compensable under workers’ compensation statutes is whether the injury was work-related and arose “out of and in the course of employment.” There are other factors (which may vary by state), but work-relatedness is key. 

This determination is understandably a tougher call to make when an injury occurs during the hours when an employee is reportedly working from home.

However, in most workers’ compensation claims, the burden of proof is on the employee to show that their claim is compensable. If an employee cannot prove that their injury was work-related, it is very unlikely that a state’s Workers’ Compensation Board will make an award for the injury. 

When examining a remote work injury claim, the process may look a little different than it would if the injury occurred on-site. For example, when an injury occurs in the workplace, insurance adjusters often interview witnesses; however, when an employee is working from home, there are likely no impartial witnesses who can corroborate an employee’s account of the events leading to the injury.

Employees may still be required to sign a release allowing an adjuster to review their medical records, which often offers further insight into the cause of an injury. 

7 reasons to choose a peo for workers' comp insurance

Q: What Can Employers Do to Reduce the Risk of Injury While Employees Are Working from Home? 

While employers might feel completely powerless to control “work from home injuries,” there are reasonable steps a business can take to reduce the risk. Consider the following options: 

  • Ergonomic Equipment

    Provide ergonomic desk furniture and computer equipment and provide training on the best way to use the equipment to avoid injuries.
  • Encourage Rests

    Encourage rests throughout the day to decrease workday stress and anxiety and lower the risk of eye, neck, back and hand pain.
  • Safety Requirements

    Establish and distribute safety requirements regarding the placement of computer equipment, desk equipment and cords. 
  • Promote Movement

    Encourage employees to take breaks and incorporate movement, such as walking outside, throughout the day.
  • Report Hazards

    Encourage employees to report hazards and concerns regarding faulty or dated equipment.

RELATED: Reduce Employee Injury and Illness with Comprehensive Risk Assessments >>

Question: Where can I turn for help with the administration of workers’ comp for remote workers? 

When you work with Axcet HR Solutions, you’ll always have a workers’ compensation expert on your side. Axcet HR Solutions is a certified professional employer organization with decades of experience in risk, safety and workers’ compensation administration. 

Not only can Axcet handle workers’ compensation administration for your organization, but our workplace safety experts can help you revamp your safety practices and guidelines for remote work, helping to reduce the likelihood of claims. 

We’re here to answer your questions about workers’ comp for remote employees—or anything else HR-related. To find out more about how we can help, schedule a consultation today

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Written by Steve Donovan

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