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Can I qualify for Workers Comp as a remote employee?

Workers Comp for Remote Employee

Are remote workers entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits?

When an injury or illness happens during regular work hours, remote and telecommuting employees are often covered by workers’ compensation coverage. In 2011, an Oregon court case set the criteria for deciding whether an injured remote worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits (Sandberg v. JC Penney Co. Inc., 243 Ore. App. 342 (2011)). The court ruled that an injury must be related to and sustained during the course of employment for workers’ compensation benefits to apply. When a worker is hurt on the job, it’s because of anything inherent to their job or because of hazards present in the workplace.

The Oregon court determined that the following factors must be taken into account when determining whether or not an injury occurred during the course of employment:

  • circumstances that led to the injury; and

  • the injury’s location and date; and

  • The existence of a link between the injury and the employee’s scope of work.

The court ruled that an employer could not require an employee to provide the workplace’s furnishings and then use the employee’s lack of control over such furnishings to avoid providing workers’ compensation. Hence, employers have an obligation to provide their on-site and off-site staff with the same level of safety.

In a workers comp claim?

Do injuries covered by Oregon’s general rule also apply to workers who are working remotely?

If you get hurt on the job in Oregon, and it happens to be “in the course of” or “arising out of” your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. The same holds true for injuries sustained away from the office, provided they happened in the course of the employee’s duties.

The “in the course of” criterion looks at when, where, and how the harm occurred. An accident that occurs on company premises makes determining liability straightforward. On the other hand, if a remote worker has the freedom to set his own schedule, the company has no grounds to dispute an employee’s claim that he was hurt at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday while undertaking work-related duties. Questions about injury reporting may also arise if the employee has a remote station and can work from a coffee shop or elsewhere.

The “arising out of” criterion looks at how the harm was related to the worker’s job. The worker must have been injured because of a risk he was exposed to on the job or in his working conditions. The required level of causality is low, but it must still be met. Employers face challenges when it comes to the safety of their remote workers because they cannot monitor their employees as closely. As a result, the “arising out of” prong presents a far more challenging analysis for remote employees, as the circumstance gives birth to a complicated interplay between work activities and non-work activities.

How should an employer deal with if a remote employee has been injured?

The risk of injury at work is high for everyone, but it’s extremely high for people who do their jobs from home. As a result, companies need to learn how to identify injuries that could be considered work-related and train their managers and HR staff accordingly. Injuries can be treated immediately, and the insurance company notified if necessary.

Worker’s compensation and the “coming and going” rule

When there is a clear demarcation between work and home, the “Coming and Going Rule” makes determining compensation simple. There are limited circumstances in which a worker who is injured while commuting to or from work might be eligible for workers’ compensation. This rule, however, becomes more nuanced when one’s house also serves as a secondary place of employment.

Contact our experienced Oregon Workers’ Compensation Attorney

You need an experienced Oregon workers’ compensation attorney if you have been refused benefits for a work-related accident or sickness that occurred while you were working from home. Our experienced work injury attorney at Aldrich Law, LLC can help you decide how to proceed with your workers’ compensation claim.

Injured in a workers comp claim and have a question?

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