Many companies now allow some if not all of their employees to work remotely even though employers have no control over the work environment of a home as compared to the office.
So, if a remote employee sustains an injury while working at the kitchen table, for example, does the injury qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Working on a laptop at the kitchen table from an ordinary chair that offers little support is an example of a workspace that eventually contributes to injuries. Improper accommodations include makeshift work surfaces and chairs without height adjustments that prevent proper ergonomic access to screens and keyboards.
Burden of proof
Remote employees are generally covered for injuries under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Courts usually consider hazards that exist in the home work environment are hazards of employment. However, the burden of proof falls on the remote worker who must provide evidence that the injury occurred while acting in the interest of the employer.
Personal comfort doctrine
The personal comfort doctrine is applicable to remote employees. It means that certain acts related to the comfort of the worker are part of the ongoing employment routine. These might include pausing to eat lunch, getting a drink of water, checking the mailbox for business correspondence or visiting the restroom. Under the personal comfort doctrine, courts view certain activities as “necessarily contemplated” and part of the overall employment picture. Therefore, any injury the remote worker sustains during such activity likely qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits.
You can learn more about the process of filing for an injury you sustained as a remote employee. Contact your workers’ compensation specialist online for a free, no-obligation consultation or call 610-892-9300.