Resources & Insights

Protecting Your Work-From-Home Employees

March 24, 2020

Javier Rivera,
President, Risk Management

If you’re like many Americans at the moment, you’re settling into a work-from-home routine and getting stuff done, COVID-19 or not.

And if you’re like many employers, suddenly having so many of your employees working from home is a new source of anxiety, regardless of how reliable and trustworthy the team might be.

One of the big questions of the moment: What happens if an employee were to get hurt at home during business hours? Would workers’ compensation insurance cover their injury?

Download: CCIG’s Work from Home Guide and more in our Coranvirus Risk Management Guide

It’s easy to conjure up all kinds of scenarios. Imagine the employee who trips over the cat while going to the printer for a work document.

She files a claim alleging that the injury resulted from her employment. Her argument is that if she was not working, she would not have been on her computer or using her printer. But if she had not been working at home, there would not have been a cat over which to trip on the way to the printer. So, is this a compensable workers’ compensation claim?

Well, it’s depends.

First, the insurance carrier would consider the time and location of the accident. Did her trip and fall occur during work hours or in a designated work area such as a home office?

What was the employee doing exactly when the accident occurred? Was she involved in a work-related task or a personal errand?

The thing to remember is this: workers’ comp will pay a claim if your worker was on the clock and they can establish a link between the duties of their employment and the injury.

So how can an employer minimize risks associated with working from home? What follows are steps companies can take immediately:

  1. Make sure your employees’ homes are safe for business. Have your employees fill out a working-from-home safety survey, or, if practical, do an inspection yourself. Your survey should look at furnishings, equipment, lighting, ventilation and smoke detectors.
  2. Encourage your employee to designate a dedicated work area in their home. This helps minimize the likelihood of injury claims. It also encourages the employee to set boundaries at home that will motivate them to remain productive.
  3. Ensure their homeowner’s policy is up-to-date. Require employees to check their homeowner’s insurance coverage. This ensures that their homes and property will be covered in the event of damage done during working hours.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 home work environment.
  6. Create a telecommuting policy. If you haven’t yet, make sure you’ve established clear guidelines regarding working from home to help prevent misunderstandings. Be sure to include specific work hours, regular breaks, and adhering to safety procedures. Also, include employee rights such as your workers’ compensation coverage.

Because of the coronavirus, millions of Americans who may have never telecommuted are doing so now. Remember, employers are responsible for providing the same safe work environment for telecommuters as for employees who work on company property. Following the above steps will help keep your employees safe and keep  workers’ compensation claims to a minimum.

Javier Rivera is president of CCIG’s Risk Management department. Reach him at or at 720-330-7941.

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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