Accidents While Working From Home
These days we tend to expect a bit of flexibility from employers when it comes to work arrangements. Its the 21st century after all. In many industries, an internet connection and a mobile phone make it possible to get the job done from almost anywhere.
Having a fridge delivered? Emergency plumbing? Ask to work from home that day.
One of the national employment standards introduced in January 2010 meant that employers now have to seriously consider requests for flexible work arrangements made by parents of kids under school age, such as asking to work from home.
Employers dont have to agree. Theyll always weigh up the business productivity and profits versus the benefits of meeting the particular needs of an employee. But technology certainly makes it a more viable option.
So what are the consequences of working from home when it comes to accidents? Can you still claim workers compensation?
Under NSW OH&S laws, your employer is expected to maintain a working environment, equipment and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health. That includes for people working at home.
For example, you should have the equipment you need (eg. chair, desk, computer). All workplaces are supposed to have a first aid kit. There should be adequate lighting and clear access to exits; sufficient training provided and knowledge of safe working procedures (ie. so you dont suffer over-use injuries.)
Your work duties, the days and hours youre working from home, and the procedures for recording work hours, should be clear. That helps with work accident claims.
The test for whether youre entitled to workers compensation is whether the accident happened during the course of your work. If so, youre covered.
In NSW there is a no-fault scheme. That means regardless of whose fault it is, if the injury happens in the course of employment, you can claim. The employers insurer pays, not the employer themselves. So OH&S obligations aside (after all, employers can hardly minimise all risks in all places employees go in the course of work), youre covered.
Of course, if your work wasnt a substantial contributing factor to the injury, compensation can be refused. Slipping over in your kitchen preparing dinner after work hours wont wash. Likewise if youre dropping something into work and suffer injury while sneaking off to clothes shop on the way. But you can claim if you injure yourself en route to the kitchen for a coffee break within work hours.
Its not always cut and dry. What constitutes in the course of employment may be challenged. Generally though, if youre injured while working from home, whether its a permanent work arrangement or a one-off, youre covered.