The COVID pandemic has changed our lives completely – from how we do our shopping to how we work. A large majority of employees became remote workers. And many are determined to keep working from home. However, as any Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney knows, this poses certain challenges. One of them refers to workers comp rights.
Just as with any new development in the labor field, remote work is still misunderstood, both by employers and employees. Are remote workers still covered by workers’ comp? Can you claim a workplace injury if the accident happened at your home?
As we will prove in this article, remote workers are still employees and have the same rights as those who work at their employer’s premises. First, let us look at some trends related to working from home.
Remote Workers Are Not Eager to Return to the Office
A survey conducted by PWC indicates that remote work is here to stay. Some of the key findings are:
- 25% of employers believe their employers need to be in the office three days per week or less
- 55% of employees want to work from home at least three days per week
- 13% of executives are ready to give up office work for good.
Moreover, 83% of employers and 71% of employees say that remote work has been a success, after getting used to it.
These are solid reasons why everyone must understand the rights and obligations of remote workers under Louisiana workers’ compensation laws.
Louisiana Workers Comp Covers Most Employees
Now let us look at the issue from a legal standpoint. Any Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney will base their evaluation of a client’s case on the stance of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The wording is clear: “most workers,” including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and minor employees are covered from the first day of employment.
There is no specification whatsoever related to the place where workers perform their job duties. However, there is one pitfall to look out for, as we will explain right now.
Make Sure Your Role Was Not Changed to Independent Contractor
One of the problems that may arise when you try to file a workers comp claim is a change in your employment status. Some employees took advantage of the work-from-home status to turn their remote workers into independent contractors.
For this to happen, you and your employer must sign an agreement in this respect. Thus, think whether your employer asked you to sign a paper – “a mere formality” – when you started working from home.
However, even if this is the case, an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney can still prove that you are actually an employee. Using the IRS 20-factor test, the lawyer will show that, essentially, you are under your employer’s control. Thus, you are de facto an employee and are eligible to receive workers comp benefits.
How Remote Workers Can Prove a Work-Related Injury
Working from home may make things more difficult, but essentially, you have to follow the same rules as any other injured worker for filing a worker’s comp claim.
- You must notify your employer as soon as possible of your injury.
- You must seek medical care without delay.
- You must submit the First Report of Injury form within 10 days of the accident.
- You must submit to an independent medical examination.
These are the most important factors that make remote workers’ claim process more difficult:
1. Proving That You Were Performing Your Job Duties
Working from home blurs the boundaries between professional and personal lives. When are you doing your job and when are you just sitting at home? However, most remote workers have created a work area in their homes. They did so for various reasons:
- To have a quiet place to work, away from noise and distraction
- To keep confidential information safe
- To have a relatively professional environment for video calls.
As your Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney will tell you, this designated area for work also helps your workers comp claim. If you can show that the injury took place in this area, then your employer cannot argue that you got injured during the lunch break or doing tasks for personal reasons.
2. Proving That You Were On the Clock
For remote workers, time is of the essence in proving a work-related injury. Since there is no commute involved, a matter of minutes can make the difference between having and not having a valid claim.
In order to increase your chances of getting your claim approved, here is what you should do:
- Take a photo of any device showing the time when you suffered the injury.
- Call your employer immediately afterward. Your mobile phone log will record even a call not taken by the other person.
- Go to the hospital as soon as possible to receive emergency medical treatment.
All these actions, together, will represent reasonable evidence showing that the injury happened during your regular working hours.
What Are the Most Common Work from Home Injuries?
You may wonder – are remote workers at risk, since they work from home? After all, the home is a safe place, which everyone furnishes and decorates with great care. As any Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney knows, there is a big difference between living in a home and working from home. Thus, many remote workers suffer from:
Cumulative injuries result from overuse and poor posture for a specific body part. This is one of the most frequent injuries related to working from home because remote workers do not have an ergonomic desk and chair.
Instead, many of them work on a laptop while sitting on the sofa and using a coffee table as a desk. This leads to many problems, from neck stiffness and lower back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Falls, Slips, and Tripping
Turning a room into a home office is not as simple as it seems. Many remote workers find that out the hard way after they suffer severe injuries after tripping on power cords and other unfamiliar cables.
Let a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Attorney Assist You!
If you suffered a work-related injury, you deserve to receive workers’ comp benefits. This is true for remote workers, just as is for those who work at their employer’s premises. In any situation, if you have a valid case, a Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney can help you file a claim successfully.
Do not let your employer persuade you otherwise – you have the right to collect benefits, and we will prove it. Thus you should schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible after your work-related accident. Call us at 504-420-2755 today!