You've always loved your job because your boss was on-board with the idea of telecommuting -- and there's nothing you can do in the office that you can't do at home. However, now you're injured and your boss says that since the injury occurred at home, you aren't eligible for workers' compensation.
Are you just out of luck?
Absolutely not. The idea that "telecommuters" (who operate more by computer than they do the phone, these days) aren't covered under workers' compensation for an on-the-job accident just because their job site happens to be a home office is a fallacy that too many employers believe. Don't let yourself be denied workers' comp erroneously.
Here are some tips on how to protect your rights to compensation through workers' comp if you work from home:
- Make certain that you are classified as an employee and not an independent contractor. If you work at the will of your employer, under his or her direction, don't freelance for others out of the same office and receive a W-2 for your taxes, you're pretty clearly an employee. If anything else is true, it's time to clarify your position.
- Use a dedicated work space. Whether your home office is the corner of a loft or an entire room, make certain that you and your employer are in agreement. Provide your employer with a photo of the set-up. That way, your employer can address any possible safety issues with you.
- Log your hours. Make sure that you track the time you are "on the clock" and when you are off it. If a question arises about whether you were really working when you were injured, a detailed history of your work time can help support your case.
- Report your injury promptly. Do not try to ignore an injury or treat it on your own to see if it will get better before you decide to report it. Report it like you would any injury that occurred in the office. Early reporting helps support your case for a workplace injury.
Keep in mind that you're entitled to workers' compensation for both accidental injuries, like a slip and fall, and long-term work injuries, like carpal tunnel. Being "on the clock" is what entitles you to benefits -- not where you work.