Telecommuters and Workers’ Compensation Benefits
A recent report from the leading employment website Flexjob.com indicates that Colorado remains at the forefront of the telecommuting trend, a work arrangement through which employees are permitted to work offsite via the internet and the telephone. The results of this report were gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Fact Finder site, and showed that Colorado edged out Vermont and Oregon for the title of top telecommuting state in the nation. With close to 7% of the workforce in this state currently working remotely, this figure is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Pros and cons
While the benefits of working from home are undeniable, from avoiding tortuous commutes to spending more time with loved ones, confusion has abounded with regard to telecommuters’ eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. Since such benefits are reserved for employees who become injured while on the job, those without clear delineations between work and personal time may encounter resistance when they try to collect workers’ comp benefits.
Defining the parameters of working from home
The main question in any workplace injury case with regard to comp benefits is whether the injury “arose out of” and “in the course of” employment. This is true regardless of the physical location at which the employee sustained the injury. This means that if an employer requires, authorizes, or permits the employee to perform work at home, and the employee is injured in the course of their employment at this location, then the employee may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Location is key to recovery
Under Colorado law, “a substantial portion of the employee’s work must be performed in Colorado, combined with either an injury in Colorado or an employment contract entered into in Colorado.” Based on this standard, out-of-state employers whose employees live in Colorado and work from home, even if it is only after standard working hours in the evenings, may be required to provide benefits to these employees and their relatives.
For workers injured on the job while telecommuting, the assistance of a workers’ comp attorney can be critical.