Employee Safety: Telecommuting Version

There’s no doubt that telecommuting offers significant benefit to employer and employee alike. Working from home, the employee cuts out the time, expense, and aggravation of the commute. The distraction of colleague chit-chat is eradicated. And the greatness of working in your PJs just can’t be overstated.

For an employer, too, offering employees the option to telecommute can positively impact the bottom line. (That may be why, according to a survey by WorldatWork, a whopping 88 percent of companies offer some form of telecommuting.)

But here’s the downside of telecommuting’s increasing popularity: it’s also led to an increase in workers’ comp claims against employers for incidents occurring in the home office.

Yes, you read that right: workers’ compensation laws hold employers responsible for injuries that occur to the employee while working from their home office.

Fortunately, there are steps an employer can take to ensure employees’ safety in the home office—as well as to keep telecommuting employees’ workers compensation claims down.

  • Work with your telecommuting employees to ensure that their home offices are set up safely—and ergonomically. You may even want to conduct site checks.
  • Establish fixed work hours and set break periods, so an employee can’t argue that you are responsible for an accident occurring outside of work hours.
  • Describe the scope of work activities. It should be clear that activity outside the employees’ job description—such as using a knife to slice a sandwich—is not part of the job.
  • Require that the home office be clear of hazards and that safety is maintained.
  • Establish the boundaries of the home office, so that if an accident happens elsewhere (for instance in the garage), you will not be liable for it.

For more than 35 years, Insurance Partners, Inc., has been providing quality protection for individuals, families, and businesses, helping people make sense of their insurance needs so they can look forward to a brighter, more secure future. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact us.

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