Workers compensation and working from home

With remote work being the 'new norm', it opens up the possibility of home-based workers compensation claims. Employers have less control over the work set up compared to the office. In this blog, we share the challenges of injuries and workers’ compensation when working from home.

Employer safety obligations

The Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws require employers to protect employees from physical and psychological injuries by providing a safe working environment — regardless of where they're located.

While the workers' compensation insurance and laws vary depending on your State and Territory, employers must have workers' compensation insurance. The insurance provides support to employees in the event there is an accident or injury. This can be in the form of income support and coverage of treatment and rehabilitation expenses.

 Greater risks when working from home

There are a lot more variables working from home compared to if employees are in the workplace. This potentially means there could be a greater risk when working remotely.

For example, employees performing sedentary work from home all day might decide to use their laptops on the sofa or at a cafe. Without a proper set-up, there is a risk they'll suffer an injury. In the office environment, an adequate and ergonomic chair is usually provided to minimise any injury. 

To help prevent any claims, it's recommended that employers have a policy that outlines clearly what a proper set up should look like and to cover potential safety issues that can arise when working from home. Remind employees of their obligations in maintaining a safe work environment. 

What is the workers' compensation claim process?

Whether your employee works from home or in the office, if you receive a workers' compensation claim, the process is the same. 

If you receive a claim, the first thing you should do is show support and sympathy. Then report the injury to your workers' compensation insurance provider within 48 hours of being notified. Remember to keep a record of every communication throughout the claims process. 

Remember, the goal is for the employee to return to pre-injury duties safely. In the event a workers compensation claim is accepted, remain supportive and regularly keep in touch. Doing so will also help keep your costs down.

What if you suspect the claim is not legit?

There are two main scenarios: an injury has occurred, but the employee is not entitled to compensation, and the other is an exaggerated or fraudulent claim. 

If you have any reason to doubt the legitimacy of the claim, you need to make sure you have all the facts. If you would like to challenge a claim, you will need to investigate it and provide the evidence to your insurer as soon as possible. They will take this into account when assessing the claim. 

Over to you

The pandemic has shifted our working environments significantly. For many, it will be their first time working from home. Managing remote employees presents several challenges, especially when it comes to workers' compensation, where the risks of a claim can be greater due to the many variables in a home environment. Regardless of where your employee works, the claims and investigation process is the same. To help prevent claims, remind your employees of their health and safety obligations in minimising risks when working from home, including having a designated working area, adequate lighting and ventilation, etc. 

We recommended purchasing our Remote Work Document Pack Here. 

For more information on the health and safety risks of working from home, visit the Safe Work Australia website

Positive HR can also help you make sense of your HR and WHS obligations. Get in touch with us to see how we can help. 

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