Do Remote Workers Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Remote employees in Illinois may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while performing work-related duties.
Benefits for Remote Workers
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal for millions of American workers. This raises many questions about work-related injuries and workers’ compensation benefits for remote workers. When injuries occur, remote workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. In Illinois, workers who are injured in the “course and scope of employment” are covered under workers’ compensation insurance provided by their employers. While remote workers have put a spotlight on the entitlement of benefits, workers’ compensation attorneys assert that this is not a novel concept under state laws. Generally, remote workers are entitled to benefits as long as injuries are work-related.
When a remote worker suffers injuries, he/she has the burden of proof to show that injuries occurred while acting in the interest of his/her employer. In some cases, proof may be difficult without a workers’ compensation attorney to navigate an injury claim. To show proof of a work-related injury, a remote worker may be asked some important questions:
- Did the employer require the worker to engage in the injury-causing activity?
- Did the employer approve the remote activity prior to the injury?
- Was the employer benefiting from the worker’s actions when the injury occurred?
When disputes about benefits arise for remote workers, a workers’ compensation attorney can address legal questions and provide evidence for sufficient proof of work-related injuries. While an employer does not have control over the conditions of a remote worker, courts usually find that this is not a sufficient reason to deny workers compensation benefits. Under state laws, employers are responsible for providing the same safe work environment for remote workers as they provide for on-site workers.
By implementing work safety guidelines, employers can limit injuries for remote workers. Employers should clearly define normal duties and working hours for remote workers and establish guidelines for a safe work environment. Training can be provided to help remote workers set up workstations with ergonomic equipment. By creating a remote work policy that outlines expectations, employers can help to prevent work-related injuries for remote workers.