Teleworking and Workers’ Comp – Am I Covered?
America is recovering! Yes! Mask mandates are lifting! Yes! Businesses are reopening! Well, somewhat.
In the wake of increasing Delta-variant cases, many businesses still embrace the telework business model, despite widespread vaccination efforts. Many employees still work from home, having become successful in a new normal.
This new normal has opened doors for new work-related injuries. You might be wondering, could an injury in your own home possibly be covered by workers’ compensation?
At Lunsford Baskin & Priebe, we have the short and long answers to this question. Read on for more information about the relationship between telework, injury, and workers’ compensation.
The Short Answer
According to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission and Mississippi state law, if an employer permits an employee to telework and that employee is injured while performing job-related duties, then that employee is covered by workers’ compensation.
The Long Answer
At the heart of the long answer still lies a “yes,” but there are a few important caveats to consider.
For employees to work at home, they must receive prior authorization from their employer. If this approval is granted, then the employer is essentially making the employee eligible for workers’ compensation should an injury occur in their home. This is because their home is now an extension of their official workspace.
You might be thinking that your busted knee, a direct result of tripping on your rug, is your own fault. It technically is, but Mississippi Workers’ Compensation law is a no-fault compensability system. This means that even if you caused your own injury, you are still covered under workers’ compensation, as long as you have the thumbs up from your employer to work from home.
Work Performance and Regularity
The next caveat is that the employee has to prove that the injury occurred while performing work duties. So, if you tripped on your way to fax an important document to your boss, then the injury occurred while you were fulfilling your job responsibilities. Workers’ comp, here you come! If you tripped on your rug while brushing your teeth, then the injury did not occur on the job and you are not entitled to benefits. But bravo for excellent dental hygiene!
Medical benefits and wage loss benefits are also only awarded if you are completing regular telework. So, if you are working from home one day because your son has an ear infection and you injure yourself, the workers’ compensation most likely does not apply. If you work from home five days a week, every week, and you receive an injury on the job, even if your son happens to be home with you, then you are entitled to benefits.
In the state of Mississippi, the rule of thumb is this: if you routinely work from home and you are injured while doing a work-related task, then you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation.
Employer approval and work performance and regularity are the big-ticket requirements to receive workers’ compensation. But, there are a few other tidbits you should consider before filing your claim.
- The court may investigate whether the work from home is actually beneficial to the employer; if the employee requested to work from home solely for personal advantage, the courts may deny the claim.
- If a telework employee is injured outside of the state, the employee must prove that predominant work is still accomplished in Mississippi and that the out-of-state work is only transient (i.e., less than six months).
- An employee must disclose the injury to their supervisor as soon as possible; the employer is required to file a report with the insurance company and needs to do so in a timely fashion. The acceptable timeline for this process is 30 days.
- If the telework employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while the injury occurred, then workers’ compensation benefits will not be awarded.
- If a telework employee makes a false claim about an injury that occurred in the home, he or she will face severe repercussions, which include fraud charges, steep fines, and even prison time.
- The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission recommends hiring an attorney should claim disputes arise and they often do, especially in telework situations where the burden of proof is trickier. The attorney should be skilled in workers’ compensation; they should have the answers to your questions.
Lunsford Baskin & Priebe: We Have The Answers
At Lunsford Baskin & Priebe, we are devoted to getting you the benefits you deserve in the event of an injury on the job, even one in the home. We specialize in workers’ compensation law, unlike our competitors, and will offer you quality answers to your most pressing questions. We know the long and short of it all!
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We are here to protect your rights, even if they tripped on a rug and busted your knee.
The information and materials on this Web site are provided for general informational purposes only, and are not intended to be legal advice. We attempt to provide quality information, but the law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance. An attorney and client relationship should not be implied. Nothing on this Web site is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney; therefore, if you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.