Workers’ Compensation (Workers’ Comp) is a fairly standard form of insurance and a common practice for all organizations who have employees. It is straightforward: Employees injured at the workplace will receive medical benefits in exchange for not suing their employer. Employees get medical coverage and employers are protected from lawsuits and exorbitant damages. Workers’ Comp is a legal requirement for employers in the UAE; as ubiquitous as it is, that doesn’t mean we can’t look at it from a different angle:
Now that half the world is on lockdown and millions working from home, it got us thinking, does Workers’ Comp cover employees if they get injured at home?
What Does the Worker’s Comp Cover?
Before we dive in what’s covered, we need to look at the basics of Worker’s Comp. These policies are comprehensive in nature and provide a wide variety of benefits to workers who suffer from workplace injury or illness. As long as an employee is on the clock and they have been instructed to work from home, insurance coverage still applies by law. Workers are entitled to coverage of medical expenses, death benefits, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation, even when they are working from home. There is one important caveat though, it all depends on the wording in your specific insurance policy. Different providers may various stipulations or exemptions and you need to be aware of this clause before you move your employees to a remote work structure.
While the risk of an employee working from home injuring themselves may be astronomically less, it could still happen. If an employee working from home slips and falls while performing a work-related task, or if they hurt themselves at their desk or fall ill, they can file a successful claim. Is it really that easy? Not quite.
The burden of proof is much higher when an employee files a claim while they are working from home. They have to show overwhelmingly strong evidence of how and why they got injured working from home, and then the employer may be able to contest it if they are not convinced. The devil is truly in the details with Workers’ Comp claims. You need to look at the specifics of each case. Did their chair break during a video conference call and they hurt their back and was it documented and witnessed by others? It really comes down to the specifics of the incident, such as back pain from sitting incorrectly at their desk or hurting their hands from typing too much, as well as their ability to prove it without a doubt.
While the risk isn’t as great as a factory floor or driving a vehicle, it is still present. But how can a business protect themselves during these times when their entire workforce is working from home?
- Document your policies and procedures for all employees in regard to working from home. Make it comprehensive to cover all potential risks, get legal advice and make sure it is clear and easy for all employees to understand.
- Constant communication with your team to make sure their work areas at home are safe, they are not putting undue stress on their bodies in the way they are sitting and working. Make sure you guide them on best practices to keep them healthy and safe.
- Set work hours just like you would do at the office and don’t forget to set times for breaks and lunch. Just because they are in their own homes, the same working hours and expectations should not change, this also limits exposure to risks or being overworked.
- Speak with your insurance advisor to ensure your plan and policy is up to date, understand what you are liable for and what your employees are entitled to. If you do receive a claim, it will not take you by surprise and you have the steps in place to process it.
- If you do receive a claim, make sure that it is handled as a regular Workers’ Comp claim, but request as much detailed information from the employee to ensure successful processing.
We are living through unprecedented times and the nature of work is going to change permanently after this pandemic. We also need to think about the growth and effectiveness of remote working technology, making this issue a more prevalent one that employers will need to cope with.
Whether you need help reviewing your Workers’ Comp coverage or need help with a claim, you can call us at 800-PETRA or drop us a line here. You can also reach us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.
Are you a business owner and worried about your business during these times, check out our business protection guide to see how insurance can protect you.