A growing share of the American workforce is remote. According to data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), approximately one-quarter of U.S. workers are remote on at least a part-time basis. This raises an important question: Are remote workers covered by workers’ compensation insurance? In California, the answer is “yes”—though these claims can be especially complex. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense lawyer provides an overview of the most important things employers in California should know about workers’ compensation insurance coverage and remote workers.
The Foundation: Remote Workers Still Covered by Workers’ Compensation in California
In California, the workers’ compensation system is designed to cover all employees, including those who work remotely. California law mandates that workers’ compensation benefits are provided to any employee who sustains an injury or illness arising out of and in the course of employment – regardless of the location where the work is performed. In other words, remote workers are entitled to the same level of protection as those who work on-site.
Remote Work Injuries are Only Covered if in the “Course and Scope” of Employment
Of course, not every injury or illness that occurs within the home of a remote worker is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Remote work injuries must occur in the “course and scope” of employment to be covered by workers’ compensation in California. The standard implies that the injury must happen during work hours and while the employee is engaged in activities that are related to their work duties. For example, if a worker developed carpal tunnel syndrome from hours of typing due to their remote work, they may have a viable claim. On the other hand, remote workers who burned themselves while cooking dinner at night would not be covered.
Employer Should Accept a Remote Worker Report, Following Claims Procedures
When a remote worker reports an injury, it is essential for employers to accept the report and follow standard claims procedures without delay. California law requires employers to provide workers with a DWC-1 Claim Form within one working day after learning about the injury. From there, the employer should facilitate the claims process and submit the necessary documents to the insurer
Remote Workers’ Claims Often Require Comprehensive Investigation
Claims made by remote workers can pose unique challenges and often necessitate a thorough investigation to determine the legitimacy and extent of the injury. Since there may be no witnesses to an at-home work injury, and the boundaries between work and personal life can blur, a comprehensive investigation is paramount. Employers should work closely with their insurance providers to gather evidence, such as time logs, work schedules, and descriptions of the home workspace.
Speak to Our Fresno Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our California workers’ compensation defense lawyers are committed to helping employers find solutions that work. Call us now or contact us online for your completely private initial consultation. We provide workers’ compensation defense representation in Fresno and in WCAB locations throughout the region, including Sacramento, Stockton, and Bakersfield.