Workplace injuries can occur without warning or can develop over a couple of days, weeks, or months. This is true whether the employee works onsite or telecommutes from home. As such, both employees and employers need to know and understand worker’s compensation.
Worker’s compensation is a kind of insurance or system mandated by the government. It offers monetary benefits to employees who get injured or develop a disability while at work. Compensation packages cover the injured worker’s medical expenses. It is not the same as or a component of disability insurance and unemployment benefits.
Workers’ comp protects both the employee and the employer; employees give up their right to file a case against their employer, while the employer has to agree to pay a specified amount for the damage or injury. A trial won’t be necessary, so both parties do not have to worry about legal fees and all other legal-related stuff.
Practically every state in the U.S. requires worker’s compensation insurance. The comp can be provided by the state, a private insurer, or a company can be self-insured. Each state has its own definition of what represents work-related injuries.
Regardless of the type or origin of business, employers need to ensure that a good workers comp policy covers their employees. For example, there are two major kinds of roofing insurance for roofing contractors: general liability and workers' compensation. Most states require these, and clients may refuse to hire those who do not have any of the two policies.
Worker's compensation for remote employees and onsite employees is required.
What is a remote employee?
A remote worker is employed by a company or employer but does not work onsite or in a traditional office. The employee can work from a coffee shop, a co-working space, or home. Remote workers are from different industries. Some of them work full-time, while others are employed on a freelance basis.
Workers' compensation coverage for remote employees depends on certain factors, including the nature of the injury, location or state of the workplace, and the specifics of the company’s remote workers’ policy.
What constitutes a work-related injury?
State laws define work-related injuries in different ways. Additionally, each state has its own laws for the claims. Businesses are expected to clearly specify a remote worker’s work hours and tasks and responsibilities. This is needed to determine which claims are work-related and which are not.
Generally, however, work-related injuries are defined as injuries acquired during work hours and in the workplace. This applies even to remote employees.
One example of a remote worker work-related injury incident happened in 2006 when a work from home employee injured her neck after she hurriedly walked back downstairs to her basement office when the phone rang. The court ruled in her favor because the home office was an approved secondary workplace, and she was in the middle of work (and only went up to get a glass of water).
What employers should do
If an employee reports a work-related injury or accident, the employer needs to find out all the details of what happened:
- When it happened?
- What the employee was doing before and leading up to the accident?
- What is the nature of the worker’s injury?
Employers should get the specifics of the incident from the concerned employee. Additionally, the worker has an adjuster who investigates the details of the claim and determines if it is work-related or not. The adjuster bases the decision on state laws.
What an investigation involves
The following is what happens during a work-related injury claim investigation:
1) The adjuster contacts the employee and schedules an interview.
2) After getting a recorded statement, the adjuster collects copies of the worker’s medical records. The concerned employee then signs the form for a medical release authorization.
3) The adjuster interviews the employer. At this point, all essential documents must have been collected already.
4) If the claim is work-related, the employer’s insurer can ask for legal advice from a compensation law attorney. The lawyer is the one who decides if the company should accept or deny the claim and if their case is strong if they choose to deny and go to court.
To prevent work-related injuries, employers should find ways to make the workplace safe. Companies should provide a remote working policy, specific work hours and days, employee’s scope of work, work area requirements, and a time tracker or virtual check-in for remote employees.
Even if a company has only five or 20 employees, even if daily operations are low-risk, an employer must provide workers’ compensation for its onsite and remote workers. Companies that violate workers’ comp laws are charged with penalties and fines and may even be imprisoned (depending on their state laws).
Rachel Porter is the content specialist for Custom Contractors Insurance, LLC, an Arizona roofing and contractors insurance company. When not writing, she enjoys reading and mountain biking with her friends.