Last spring, many offices and other workplaces around the country were forced to close as a result of the shutdowns enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some employees, such as those who work in non-essential businesses (restaurants, bars, casinos, salons) were temporarily laid off from their jobs as a result of federal and state-issued orders. Employees in other industries were able to shift to a remote working arrangement—also known as “telecommuting,” or simply working from home. According to various estimates, up to 42 percent of the American labor force is currently working from home, at least in some capacity, and many employers are finding that the transition has had benefits for their companies.
Working from home does have its challenges, however. Managing time and distractions can be difficult for some people, as can putting household responsibilities aside to focus on work. However, there is one concern in particular that many telecommuters have, especially if they were injured while working from home. Does workers’ compensation cover injuries that occur at an employee’s residence?
The Details Matter
Under Illinois law, employers throughout the state are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. This includes employees who do not work on-site at the company’s headquarters or office building location. The law also provides workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are injured in the course of performing their jobs— including injuries that occur off-site. In short, if you are injured while working from home as an employee, you are generally eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits, but the circumstances surrounding the accident and subsequent injury are important.
The first important detail is likely to be whether or not your employer knew you were working from home. If you normally work at the office, but you were doing some catch-up work at home when you were injured, you may have a tough time claiming workers’ comp benefits. However, if you have a standing work-from-home arrangement in which your employer expects you to be working a set schedule, and you were injured during your normal working hours, obtaining benefits will be easier.
How and why you were injured will make a difference as well, because workers’ compensation benefits are intended to help those who were injured while performing activities related to their jobs. If you work in an office, and you trip and fall on your way to the bathroom, workers’ comp will usually cover your injuries. The same is true while working at home. However, if you decide while working from home to run to the store to get something to make for dinner later, and you slip and fall while coming back into your house, workers’ comp is likely to deny your claim since it is not considered work-related.
Notify Your Employer and Document Your Injuries
When you work from home, there may be no one else around to verify the details of your accident or injury. Therefore, it is especially important to let your employer know what happened as soon as you can. It is also crucial to include as many details about the situation as possible. This documentation can include the date and time that the injury occurred, as well as photographs or video of your injury. Your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits will likely depend on your ability to show that your injury occurred while you were performing work-related activities.
Contact a Plainfield, IL Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The past year has been challenging for everyone due to the health and economic impact of coronavirus. If you have suffered an injury while working from home in Illinois, an experienced Will County workers’ comp lawyer can help you secure the benefits to which the state law says you are entitled. We will work hard to ensure that your rights and best interests are fully protected. Call the skilled legal team of Flaherty Law today at 815-577-7500 to schedule a free consultation.