With the advancements in technology, more employees are working from home for some duration of the work week. Also, with the COVID-19 outbreak there are more employees working from home then ever before. This presents several challenges when it comes to workers compensation and ensuring your employees are safe while working in these off-site “workspaces.” A worker’s compensation claim can still occur while an employee is working at their home office conducting tasks within their job-related duties. There are key steps an employer and its employees should do to protect themselves when working in these off-site work environments.
- Designate a dedicated work area within the employees’ home. If possible, have the employee assign a specific room / space in their house to utilize as their workspace. This will help minimize the likelihood of injury claims, as they become familiar with maneuvering around that space every day.
- Once you’ve designated what room / space you want to use as your home office ensure that there are no hazards in the workspace that could cause potential injury. Such as cords in walking paths and faulty furniture that needs repair or replacement. It would also be a good idea to have your employee take a picture of the workplace for each parties’ records.
- Ensure the employee’s homeowners policy is up to date. This ensures that their homes and property will be covered in the event of damage done during working hours. Have your employees supply you with documentation regarding this and keep it on file.
- Review your insurance. Speak with your insurance company about having employees work from home to make sure that you are adequately covered in this area. Insurance specialists may advise that you obtain management liability insurance. Such insurance would cover the legal expenses that can arise from having work-from-home employees.
- Focus on cybersecurity. Ensure that all employee devices including laptops, tablets, and desktops are protected from intrusion. Have an IT professional set up a secure connection from the employee’s home to your company network. Connections with weak or no security leave your company open to hacking. This can put your entire business at risk. Also, insist that only employees use the company’s equipment.
- Stay in direct contact.Unless you check in with offsite employees regularly, you won’t know if they are having difficulties. Stressed workers tend to be less productive and can be prone to accidents. Make sure you have the right telecommuting tech tools in place to communicate and collaborate with your work from home employees. Check in daily and consider setting up weekly or biweekly video calls. This will enable you to see them in their homework environment.