The impact of COVID-19 continues to ripple through different industries and infrastructures. The massive shift towards employees working from home meant that thousands of people were suddenly in their homes, performing their roles to the best of their abilities. The move to an agile and mobile workforce raised questions about Workers’ Compensation and how location affects an employee’s ability to lodge a claim.
An employer’s obligation
As set out by WorkCoverWA, employers must provide a safe workplace for their employees. This obligation is likely to extend beyond office walls. That this employer’s responsibility can extend outside the office is essential for employees continuing to work from home.
Communication is critical
If you’re an employee currently working from home, it is critical to maintain an open line of communication with your employer. Regular contact ensures that you can immediately raise any safety issues relating to your work environment at home. Advances in modern communication technology (like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Whatsapp) allow companies to direct message quickly and efficiently. These apps also help foster a positive culture of workplace safety.
Workers’ compensation for work-from-home injuries
According to WorkCoverWA,
Workers are generally covered for workers’ compensation when working from home. Whether a worker is entitled to compensation for an injury suffered whilst working from home will depend on whether the injury arose out of or in the course of employment or whilst the worker is acting under the employer’s instructions (https://www.workcover.wa.gov.au/employers/understanding-your-rights-obligations/covering-your-workers/)
Suppose your injury occurs out of or during your employment or while performing any activity incidental to your job. In that case, you will be eligible for WA workers compensation. Once your employer approves your work-from-home request (whether explicit or implicit), you’re likely covered for workers’ compensation if you hurt yourself at home.
Are you covered if you work from home?
Our team has worked on a recent spate of cases that show workers compensation insurance will cover you for similar incidents and injuries that are covered if you are working in an office on your employer’s premises. Think of it like this; if you are at your corporate office or workplace and hurt yourself during lunch, you are covered if you want to make a workers’ compensation claim. The same conditions can apply to employees working in the home-based work environment. That is, you are covered if the injury occurs during working hours.
You are not covered if you hurt yourself outside your specified working hours or when performing a task unrelated to your role. However, there are nuances to this, and it mostly depends on your specific circumstances. If you are injured and feel like it’s work-related, the first step is to speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. They can review the incident and advise on whether your claim is viable.
What is your employer responsible for in a WFH environment?
While your employer must provide you with a safe workplace, it’s essential to remember that they have no control over your home environment. Most employers offer a checklist employees must complete before working from home to ensure the working conditions pass work health and safety requirements. Checklists often include things like:
- A risk assessment
- Communication arrangements
- A health and safety checklist (suitable workspace, uncluttered floor, suitable lighting, etc.
- Laptop and computer suitability
- Desk set up
- Right chair, computer screen, and mouse.
Are you thinking of working from home?
Employees request flexible work arrangements for various reasons, especially in this post-COVID environment. These work arrangements can be temporary or permanent, but whatever you choose, you will likely be covered if you sustain a work-related injury.
Some of the most significant benefits of working from home include:
- Higher staff retention rates
- Productivity gains
- A happier workforce
- A more profitable company.
How do employers create a safe work-from-home environment?
Employers can support their staff to work from home by implementing the following hints and tips:
- Explaining proper desk setup
- Advising employees on the most suitable types of equipment
- Suitable space to work at home
- Create a WFH induction process clearly articulating issues directly relevant to the home-based working environment
- Create a checklist or a set of instructions to help employees create safe environments for working away from the office
- Stay engaged with employees, informing them about the tools, advice, information, and resources they need to stay safe at work.
It’s important to remember that as an employee, you are also responsible for your safety at work. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or home; you must take reasonable care to avoid incidents. Ensure you raise any concerns with your employer if you are worried about the safety of your work-from-home environment.
Employer inspections of WFH environments
While working from home has many benefits, if you have legitimate concerns about your ability to perform your role safely from home, you can ask your employer to conduct a worksite inspection. If your employer agrees, they’ll check your home work environment to ensure that it meets relevant health and safety requirements. If there is an issue, they can work with you to reduce or remove any risks to your safety.
With the post-COVID WFH migration seemingly here to stay, safe and healthy home working environments are a win-win for both employees and employers.
Choose Soul Legal as your Workers Compensation Lawyers
If you’ve been injured at work or while working from home and you’re unsure if the circumstances of your injury will be covered by worker’s compensation, contact us for advice and assistance.
The Soul Legal team has extensive experience working on workers’ compensation claims in Perth, Baldivis, and Osborne Park, WA, and they will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Soul Legal offers a free no-obligation claim assessment and a no-win-no-fee service if we consider your claim worth pursuing. Our dedicated and empathetic lawyers have extensive experience with Worker’s Compensation claims in WA and will help you through every step of the claims process.
Director / Partner Soul Legal