Many employers are moving towards a remote workforce to help their bottom line. Studies show that telecommuting may increase efficiency and productivity while saving overhead costs. Typically, remote work benefits both the employer and employee. But what happens when one of those remote workers gets hurt at home while on the job?
Workers’ Compensation Covers Employees
Worker’s compensation insurance covers job-related injuries and illness “arising out of” and “during the course of” performing the job regardless of location. With the increasing number of remote workers, there has been a corresponding increase in employees filing workers’ compensation claims for injuries sustained while working at home. However, it is up to the employee to prove that the injury arose out of work and was sustained “in the course of” performing their job duties.
Employers who hire remote workers need clear outlined policies for telecommuting that include procedures for filing claims. These guidelines must also include expectations for a designated work area, training, ergonomics, and safety measures. Some companies are even taking the extra step to set up home visits to check in with employees to make sure they are complying. These precautions are designed to reduce or eliminate injuries, illness, and save on claims.
Independent Contractors vs. Employees
Workers’ compensation does not cover independent contractors generally. Florida State law does not require employers to carry insurance to cover them. The definition of independent contract is complicated. Essentially if the individual is paid individually and controls how and when the work is done, they may be independent contractors and not employees
Other practical distinctions include:
- Employers deduct taxes from employees’ paychecks, and they are paid through payroll. Employers do not take taxes out of independent contractors’ pay, and they are paid through accounts payable.
- Employees fill out W4 forms when they accept a job, and independent contractors fill out a W9.
- Employees typically get benefits, including workers’ compensation and independent contractors do not.
*These criteria do not determine whether someone is an employee or not. Please call the office if there is a question.
If you work remotely, always double-check that your employer has properly classified you to ensure you can receive benefits such as workers’ compensation claims for any on-the-job injuries.