Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation if You Work Remotely?

February 14, 2023
Katy E. Luchansky
Remote Work - Workers' Compensation Benefits - Stern & Cohen

The simple answer is yes. Many people think that workers’ compensation benefits are specific to people working in an office or at a job site, but workers’ compensation benefits cover all employees – even those who work at home.

This has become increasingly important to be aware of with a shift to remote work or hybrid work for many employers since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remember – workers’ compensation benefits cover wages and medical bills for people injured while in the course and scope of employment. Just because an employee may work from home does not exclude them from their entitlement to these benefits if they are injured while performing their job duties. Oftentimes in these types of injuries, the key question becomes whether the employee was injured while they were engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer and whether you were in the course and scope of your employment.

Challenges Unique to Remote Work Injuries

Remote work injuries provide unique challenges. One of the challenges is that because the employee is injured at home, there is likely not going to be a coworker or supervisor on the scene to corroborate the incident or on-site medical to immediately go to. This makes reporting the injury to your employer even more crucial in these circumstances. Not only reporting the injury – but making it clear to your employer that it was work-related.

For example, let’s say you tripped and fell at home, injuring your back. You tell your employer that you are injured and will be missing time from work. If you are a remote employee, your employer may assume was simply a fall that occurred at home while outside of the course of your employment, perhaps while doing personal lawn work or after getting out of the shower. If that is the case, then it would not fall under workers’ compensation. Moreover, the fact that the injury occurred during work hours is not enough to prove an entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. As work-from-home has become more commonplace, so have habits such as quickly changing a load of laundry during the day or perhaps showering before a video meeting. If your injury occurs during those personal activities, under the law, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

However, if you fell while going to answer your work phone or packing up equipment to bring back to your employer, the injury is likely covered by workers’ compensation. Some cases have even found that falling while walking down your stairs can qualify as workers’ compensation if you were on a work call or while attending to your personal comfort. That is because you were injured while in the course and scope of your employment at home. A simple way to think of it is asking yourself “was I performing or in the process of performing a work duty when the accident occurred?” If yes, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Remember, in the example above, tell your employer you fell while working. This will help clear up any course and scope issues that may arise if your claim is denied and you are forced to file a claim petition.

Bottom Line

As with most injuries, whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as a remote worker is highly fact sensitive. Generally speaking, Pennsylvania law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover all employees. This includes remote workers. Working from a home office does not preclude you from the benefits that would be available to you if you were working in your employer’s office. Call our office to see if your injury at home was in the course and scope of your employment.

At Stern & Cohen, we can assist you with your work from home injury or any type of Workers’ Compensation claim.  Call us.  The consultation is always free.