Telecommuting, also known as working remotely, has become more commonplace. Depending on what your industry is, it may be easier for employees to work from home rather than commute to an office every day. In some cases, telecommuting can increase productivity and cut down on the expenses of operating a fully-functional commercial office space.
Telecommuting offers flexibility and minimizes costs for the business owner. But what if an employee is injured while working from home? Is their employer liable to pay for these injuries, whether the individual works outside the physical workplace part-time or full-time? Can remote work present legal risks to a business?
If the individual is an independent contractor rather than an employee, workers’ compensation probably won’t cover any injuries they sustain during work hours. However, the facts of each case determine whether workers’ comp will apply, so each case (along with all applicable laws) needs to be carefully evaluated.
FCA provides legal funding in Los Angeles for personal injury plaintiffs awaiting a settlement. All funding is non-recourse, meaning there are no out-of-pocket costs and you don’t pay us back unless your case wins.
Repayment comes out of your settlement proceeds. Apply now and receive cash within 24 hours of our discussion of your case with your personal injury attorney—and feel free to call us at 310.424.5176 anytime.
What California Labor Code Says
In California, wage and hour laws are complex. Non-exempt teleworkers must receive rest periods and meal-time, while employers are required to maintain set schedules and audit time-keeping records. Employees who work from home are also generally eligible for workers’ compensation. But determining whether an injury sustained by a teleworker is work-related is challenging, although maintaining normal business hours can protect employers from false claims—particularly related to someone who chooses to work late at night.
Under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace. This rule applies even if an employee is working at home. It’s also possible for an individual working from home to file a workers’ compensation claim, particularly if an injury has a direct causal connection to work-related activities performed during regular working hours. In fact, someone injured in a home office can be compensated for the same types of damages, to the same extent, as an office employee.
Workers’ Compensation for Telecommuters
Liability risks arise out of a supervisor being unable to monitor a telecommuting employee’s actions, or control safety measures. However, they can:
- Establish set work hours and break times
- Identify permissible work activities
- Specify a location, such as a home office
- Install task-monitoring software to record activities
- Arrange on-site visits to resolve potential problems
Employers may also be liable for injuries sustained when an employee engages in a minor physical departure from their job duties. This is particularly applicable if the employee was acting for the employer’s benefit or had just a minor sidetrack. Oftentimes the facts of a claim must be determined on a case by case basis.
Therefore, specific aspects of a claim can make proving it challenging. For example, if an injury occurred shortly before a break, or if a worker didn’t engage in risky or dangerous behavior when the injury occurred, a court might find the employer just as responsible as if an employee was going to an office break room. A court or personal injury attorney will look at whether an injury arose out of housework-related activities such as caring for children or other duties a homeowner or household resident commonly performs.
Apply for Pre-Settlement Funding with FCA Legal Funding
FCA provides legal funding in Los Angeles for personal injury plaintiffs awaiting a settlement. All funding is non-recourse, meaning there are no out-of-pocket costs and you don’t pay us back unless your case wins. Repayment comes out of your settlement proceeds.