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How telecommuting affects workers’ compensation claims

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act makes it possible for individuals to receive financial compensation for injuries they sustain in the workplace. These are injuries that happen while participating in acts to further the interests of an employer. Employees that perform their job duties from home are eligible for the same protections. However, there are additional considerations for telecommuters who get injured during work hours.

Proving a workplace injury

Telecommuters who suffer an injury while working may find it more challenging to demonstrate proof of the work-related injury. People who perform their job duties at an employer’s business enjoy the assumption that their injuries are related to their work. Telecommuters will need to demonstrate they were involved in an act that was beneficial to their employers when they were injured.

Insurance companies will consider each workers’ compensation claim on an individual basis. But a couple of examples based on past cases demonstrate the potential nuances that can affect telecommuters’ workers’ compensation claims.

One employee suffered a slip-and-fall accident while leaving her designated workplace to grab a drink of juice from the kitchen. This individual was awarded workers’ compensation benefits for the accident. Conversely, an employee who ventures outside his or her home to retrieve mail or enjoy a brief smoke break who takes a similar fall may not receive workers’ compensation benefits.

It may appear that neither action taken by the employees in the above examples was in furtherance of their employers’ interests. But the first worker benefits from the “personal comfort doctrine.” This workers’ compensation provision states that job duties are uninterrupted by acts like bathroom breaks, eating and drinking that workers use to facilitate their comfort while working.

The increase in workers who perform their job duties in their homes naturally increases the number of workers’ comp claims filed by telecommuters. These circumstances can further complicate a process that is often difficult to navigate. An attorney who is familiar with workers’ compensation laws may benefit telecommuters injured while working.