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Injured While Working at Home: Is It Covered by Workers’ Comp?

Joanow Legal Group April 17, 2020

More and more Americans have begun working at home. A Bureau of Labor and Statistics report from 2010 showed that almost a quarter of people across the country did some or all of their work from home. More recently, about 50% of people worked at least half the week from home, while more than 60% worked at least one day a week remotely. Regardless of where an employee works, injuries are still possible. When a work accident takes place during office hours in an office, workers’ compensation rules are not complicated. But they become so when someone is injured in their own home.

Generally, when a Pennsylvania employee is performing a task that does not further their employer’s interests or if they are doing something for their own personal benefit, then an injury incurred during that time is not considered within the course of one’s employment. This means their injury may likely not be covered by workers’ compensation. Once the employee returns to completing their work, subsequent injuries will be covered. Similarly, horseplay is not covered by workers’ compensation. But what happens when someone is working from home and slips and falls on the way to the kitchen for refreshments?

Employers are worried about workplace safety when someone works from their home, because they have little or no control over the working environment. Additionally, proving an injury was work-related when it takes place at home is more difficult, because of a lack of evidence. However, given the popularity of working from, home there is a need for handling these claims differently and establishing different standards of proof.

A number of court cases have begun addressing the question, trying to create different standards such an employer’s permission to work from home or whether the employee was working in a fixed place. When a worker is injured while working, it can be frustrating to have to prove to one’s employer that the injury is work-related. It might help to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney advocating on one’s behalf in these circumstances.