"Navigating Work-From-Home Claims During COVID-19"
In an article published in the October 2020 issue of Employee Benefit Plan Review, Mark Goodman and Tyler Connor provide insight on the ways in which employers can navigate work-from-home claims during COVID-19.
Given the increase of employees working from home, the number of workers' compensation claims by employees alleging an injury will become more frequent. An injury that occurs at home while working can be found compensable.
“Proving a work-from-home injury did not occur within the course of employment is often difficult for employers and insurers as, generally, the only witness is the employee who is claiming the on-the-job injury,” said Goodman and Connor. “Many times, whether the injury is compensable or not, the deciding factor will come down to the employee’s words.”
Employers and insurers should be prepared for many different types of injuries alleged by employees due to working from home. Among the most important steps employers can take to reduce risk is to implement a work-from-home policy that all employees must sign. The employer should establish guidelines for a home office, define the employee’s job duties, provide desks and chairs (if possible) and provide training for employees setting up home workstations.
One aspect employers and insurers will want to consider moving forward is the number of workers' compensation claims filed by employees stating they tested positive for COVID-19.
“Employers and insurers will be put in difficult situations dealing with these claims, not only because of the sheer number of claims, but also how each will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis," Goodman and Connor explain. “In most states, the burden of proof will fall on the employee.”
To stay ahead of the potential work-from-home claims, employers need to be forward
thinking and start taking proper measures, if they have not done so already,” conclude Goodman and Connor.