Were You Hurt While Working from Home?
Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, people who suffer on-the-job injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for medical treatment and lost wages whether they work in a public workplace or at home.
Injured While Working at Home
In today’s work environment, telecommuting is allowed by many employers who save money by letting their employees work from home. Jobs that can be performed via the internet or by phone allow telecommuting benefits for both employers trying to cut expenses and employees who want to work from home. Many professions including marketing, customer service, sales, accounting, tutoring, and even nursing can be done efficiently from a home office.
According to Illinois laws, telecommuters who are not independent contractors are covered by workers’ compensation. Injured workers can file for workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while performing work for their employer, whether working from a company office, an outdoor construction site, or the comforts of home. Although the lines between work and personal business are often blurred when working from home, the rules regarding work-related injuries are very clear.
Employers are required to ensure a safe working environment for all employees working on company property and employees who are telecommuters. However, employees working on company property and employees working from home must prove that their injuries are work-related to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, telecommuters must show that their injuries occurred during the course of employment and during routine work hours that would normally be conducted in a company setting.
Employees who work from home must be diligent about reporting work-related injuries to a company supervisor or manager as soon as they occur. Since there are likely no witnesses when work injuries occur in a home setting, sending an email to the employer is essential to protect workers’ rights. When an injury occurs at home, an employee should get medical treatment right away. The doctor should be informed that it’s a work-related injury that occurred while working at home for an employer.
Insurance companies are looking for any possible reason to deny benefits for workers’ compensation claims, especially for injury victims that get hurt away from company property. Many insurers are hesitant to pay workers’ compensation claims for telecommuters because daily job tasks and performance are not directly supervised by a company employer, manager, or supervisor. Without clear proof of a work-related injury, a worker’s compensation claim filed by a home-based employee may be denied.
Creating a Safe Home-Based Work Environment
Employers who allow telecommuting should establish a safety policy for home-based workers. To avoid injuries, it’s important to make telecommuters aware of injury hazards that may impact job tasks. Since Illinois employers are required to provide workers’ compensation for all employees, preventing work-related injuries and claims is essential.
Creating a safe work environment for a home-based worker is difficult. Most employers who agree to a telecommuting arrangement don’t want to monitor home safety or visit a worker’s home. Some employers require home-based workers to do self-inspections and submit regular written reports to supervisors or human resources departments. Home-based workers with questions about workers’ compensation rights may consult a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer for information.
According to some insurers, many home-based workers are hesitant to report work-related injuries for fear of losing their telecommuting job privileges. In some cases, home-based employees never report job-related injuries or file for benefits through a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer. Common work-related injuries include:
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Neck, back, and ankle sprains
- Pulled muscles and ligaments
- Slipped discs
- Slip-and-fall injuries
- Cuts and abrasions
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In Illinois, an injured worker who files a worker’s compensation claim has the right to receive medical care and treatment for injuries, loss time benefits, and compensation for temporary, partial, or permanent disabilities. Most claims are filed for job-related injuries, but workers’ compensation also covers claims for job-related illness and diseases such as chronic repetitive stress illnesses, stress-related illnesses, lung diseases, and heart conditions. Home-based employees who develop carpal tunnel from excessive computer work or a broken ankle from tripping over a computer cord may be compensated for their injuries.
When an employee suffers injuries, the employer should be notified right away. When the injury causes the employee to miss more than three days of work, the employer must accept or deny the injury claim within 14 days. The employer is required to file an accident report with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission within 30 days. If the employer refuses to accept the employee’s injury claim, the employee must receive a written explanation with a reason for denial. In such cases, a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer can file an appeal.