Working at home and in remote locations has continued since 2020. This trend has also shown that work-related injuries are not restricted to locations that are not directly owned or controlled by employers.
California’s workers compensation requirements are not site-dependent. Workers may receive compensation for injuries that occurred on the job, even if it occurs through telework or at any off-site location.
California complies with court decisions going back over 40 years. In 1980, a California appeals court upheld a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board decision awarding benefits to a university professor who suffered a hip injury while working from home when he slipped on his papers.
This presents complications for employers and workers. Unlike employer-controlled workplaces, business does not control safety conditions at an employee’s home or other remote worksites. Both parties also face obstacles in proving their cases because there are generally no witnesses at an employee’s home.
Like other workers’ compensation claims, there may be an investigation. Workers’ compensation carriers could inspect a worker’s home office. But, according to the State Fund, these investigations are unusual.
As an extension of the customary workplace, a remote work area should be kept in a safe condition. Generally, employers are responsible for remote worksites for hazards from materials, equipment or processes that they furnished.
Employers should assure that at-home workstations are placed in a distraction-free area away from other family members, guests, or friends. Ergonomics should be an important feature for the equipment and furniture. Telecommuters must comply with safety and health regulations.
Although recommended, employers are not required to review remote work locations. But Cal/OSHA will inspect home-based manufacturing if there are safety complaints or referrals involving violations that threaten physical harm or imminent danger.
Proving a workers’ compensation case, especially at a remote worksite, may be difficult. Attorneys can help injured workers pursue their rights to compensation.