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The Home Office – What Happens if My Employees is Injured?


This topic is taking on a whole new level of importance.  In light of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 threat, most employers are taking measures to protect the health of their employees and keep their workplaces safe.  Among those measures is requiring or encouraging employees to work remotely. In most cases, this means working from home.  This raises some questions:  What happens when an employee sustains an injury while working from home?  Would such an injury be compensable under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act?  What can the employer do to limit workers’ compensation liability for such injuries?

Determining whether there is a connection between the injury and the employment is a challenge when the injury occurs at the employee’s home. A work injury is compensable if it arises out of and in the course of the employment, regardless of the location in which the injury occurs.

  • “Arising out of” means there is a causal relationship between the injury and disability.
  • “In the course of” refers to the relationship of the injury to the employment.


Example: An employee who is working from home due to the COVID-19 threat.  She is injured when she trips over computer/printer cables in her home office workplace after returning from her lunch break.  This would likely be considered compensable as the injury occurred during work hours, in her home workplace, and with equipment associated with her work activity. 

But what if her injury occurred when she tripped on a loose piece of carpeting while walking to the kitchen to take a coffee break?  If such an injury occurred during a coffee break on the employer’s premises, the compensability would likely not be questioned. This example is less clear cut, but it is likely this injury would also be considered compensable. 

Courts have found that the employer’s lack of control over the conditions of an employee’s home-based workplace (in this case loose carpeting) is irrelevant.  The hazards an employee encounters when performing work at home are also hazards of his or her employment.

What can the employer do to limit its workers’ compensation exposure for employees working remotely? 

  • Establish policies and guidelines that establish the employer’s expectations for employees working remotely.
  • Designate who is eligible to work remotely, specific work days, and specific work hours.
  • They may define which areas of the home are designated to be work areas and which areas of the home are for storage and use of work-related office equipment and materials.
  • They may require the employee to provide photos of their designated work areas to ensure they comply with the employer’s safety rules.
  • The policy should also specify whether travel between home and the employer’s premises is considered paid “on the clock” time, and whether mileage will be paid.
  • Make sure employees have information regarding healthy ergonomics. Correct posture, computer placement, lighting, etc.
  • Remind employees that you care about their safety.


The compensability of injuries sustained by employees working remotely can be difficult and complex, and strategies for addressing these issues are always evolving.  The analysis of these types of injuries is extremely fact-specific, and may require a case by case assessment.

If an injury is sustained by an employee working remotely, as soon as possible, please contact our CompOne claim analyst Jenny Killips at 517-913-1704.

Sample Work From Home Policies