Does Worker's Compensation policy extends to coverage your employees who are now working at home due to current COVID-19 events?
Generally speaking, worker’s compensation provides compensation when an employee injury or illness arises out of and in the course of employment. Coverage applies regardless of the location of where the injury occurs – therefore, while an employee telecommutes or is in an office. Typically, it is the burden of the employee to prove that the injury is a work-related injury. “Arising out of” meaning what an employee was doing when the injury occurred and “in the course of” referring to when an injury happened. An employee must show that they were in the course of work and working for the employer’s interest at the time an injury occurs.
When an employee works from home, their work premise becomes the their home. Because the employer has lack of control over the work conditions, establishing policies is the best practice. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Telecommuting policies and procedures
- Designated work area guidelines, including workplace set up and safety measures (i.e., ergonomics)
- Setting fixed hours to promote breaks, rest periods and meal times
- When appropriate, conducting periodic check of the home office to help review work hazards. Or possibly providing equipment to help eliminate work and safety hazards.
Telecommuting policies and procedures
Now, more than ever, it is encouraged by risk management solution and compliance companies, such as Ironwood Business Consulting to update business policies to include telework. Kevin Reynolds, President of Ironwood Business Consulting shares:
We can build a company-specfic one for your clients if needed. We do have a COVID/Pandemic policy to touch on the telework issues. However, here are some good government websites and checklist for employers to insure a safe workplace: Telework site and OSHA site.
How does this affect your Worker's Compensation exposure ratings?
When an employee works from home, some carriers require each home location to be listed on the policy. Generally due to current events, we are not requiring individual residents to be scheduled as long as the state is listed on the policy. Through the end of May, most carriers are considering these exposures to be temporary operations. Many employees are able to perform their normal duties remotely. If work exposure has changed and is beyond the 60 day temporary operations, the changes would be picked up at audit.
If you have questions on your specific policy, please reach out to a licensed agent.