Can At-Home Employees Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
By: Ali R. Baghdadi, Esq.
March 26, 2020
In the midst of the new COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are applying voluntary for work-from-home policies. For many employees, it will be their first time working from home.
The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Act applies toanyone who is injured within the course and scope of their employment. To qualify for benefits, the injury must have happened while the employee was doing work for the employer;the location is less relevant.
In general, workers’ compensation must accept claims for employee injuries or illnesses that arise out of, and in the scope of employment, no matter where the injury occurs. If an at-home employee suffers an injury such as a slip and fall while performing a work-related activity, he or she has every right to file a claim.
Employees working from home face obstacles in proving their injury was work-related. For instance, they must prove when and how the injury occurred. Injury in the work place is much easier to prove, as there will likely be security camera footage, and/or co-workers that are witnesses to the incident. This makes the claim much easier to prove that an injury did occur.
It is common for employers to push back and refuse to pay any benefits. Employers will likely argue that because they do not have control over the work-at-home environment, they should not be liable to pay any worker’s compensation benefits. For example, an employer can provide safe workstations to help prevent injuries. Unfortunately, employers have no way of knowing the working conditions of someone working remotely.
In order to ensure the safety of their employees, employers must establish home office guidelines to eliminate safety risks and hazards. Guidelines are critical for avoiding work-related injuries.