Are Workplace Injuries Covered if I am now Working from Home?
Mankato Workplace Injury Attorney
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz recently declared the coronavirus a “peacetime emergency”, and recommended certain actions for controlling its spread. One of those recommendations included asking businesses to allow teleworking whenever possible.
With their workplace now redefined, many are wondering how that might affect their workers’ compensation benefits. Are employees still covered for an on-the-job injury while at home? Here is some vital information to know.
Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Law
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), the state’s workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault system designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured as a result of their employment activities.” It also defines a work-related injury as “any condition that is caused, aggravated or accelerated by the employment activities.”
What the law does not do is restrict people to only certain locations. Accordingly, Minnesota employees are guaranteed coverage while performing a job-related function. That coverage does not cease once someone leaves an employer’s premises.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
Section 176.181 of the Minnesota Statutes requires anyone with even one employee to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, or to self-insure. However, this law does not apply to independent contractors, many of whom also work remotely.
The Internal Revenue Service defines an independent contractor as a self-employed individual who performs services that are controlled by a client. This basically means that your client is like your boss who dictates what needs to be done, but you decide on how you perform your work.
Your employment classification has probably not changed just because you are now working from home. If you were considered an employee before, you had workers’ compensation then. You are therefore still covered even though your physical work location is now your home.
Possible At-Home Injuries
When working from home, you still perform many of the same tasks as before. This means you are also susceptible to the same type of injuries. A few injuries teleworkers might experience include:
- Back strains from lifting equipment or setting up a home office
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Severe headaches from staring at a computer screen
- Slips and falls while moving around an in-home workstation
Obstacles to Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Just because you are covered while at home does not mean that filing a workers’ compensation claim is easy. In fact, it could become more difficult because you are isolated from your company’s human resources department. As a result, you may have difficulty obtaining the paperwork or guidance that is needed to facilitate the claims process.
Insurance companies are supposed to treat on-site and telework employees equally. However, that is often not the case. Some companies can try to downplay the severity of at-home accidents, attributing them to being personal injuries that must be addressed by your homeowner’s insurance.
Employers may also question whether you were actually “on the clock” when an injury occurred. That question becomes even more convoluted if your employer has given you more flexibility while at home to choose your own working hours.
People often dismiss those who work from home as “not having real jobs.” Another common misconception is that telecommuters can continue working even though they are injured. As a result, insurance companies may not feel a sense of urgency when it comes to processing your claim.
Contacting a Mankato Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Asserting your rights after being injured in an on-the-job accident is often very difficult. It can become even more challenging when your home is also your workplace.
Don’t let the fact that you are telecommuting keep you from enjoying the benefits you deserve. Rather than getting the run-around, please contact us for assistance in filing your claim. We’ll make sure your rights are protected and that you are treated with respect.