Working From Home – Can I Claim Workers Compensation?
Traditionally, when you hear someone has made a workers compensation claim it’s naturally been assumed that the accident has occurred at the workplace, whether that be the office or worksite.
But with more people working where they live than ever before, the question many Australians will be asking is – ‘am I covered for workers compensation if I get injured when working from home?’
The simple answer is ‘yes’ but before you lodge a claim you should be aware of your rights, employer responsibilities and what requirements you need to meet in order for your claim to be successful.
How to know if you’re eligible for compensation after a working from home injury?
But in order to be successful in your claim after suffering an injury while working from home you need to prove two things:
- Your injury arose out of the course of your employment
This essentially means that the accident which caused the injury happened during work hours and at a place (home) which you were expected to be at in connection with your job. So as long as the accident happened during the agreed work hours and your employer approved you to work from home – then you would meet this requirement.
- Employment was a substantial contributing factor
To meet this requirement you need to prove that had you not been performing your work duties from home, the accident essentially would not had have occurred.
An example of what would likely be a successful working from home claim
A man has been approved to work from home between the hours of 9am-5pm. At 10:35am he realises he needs his work files which are in the front seat of his car parked in the driveway and trips on the stairs of his porch in his attempt to get them, suffering a broken arm and dislocated shoulder.
In this example, the man’s workers compensation claim would likely be successful as the accident occurred during the course of his employment (within agreed work hours) and given the fact that he was retrieving work files when the accident occurred – work was clearly a substantial contributing factor.
Alternatively, had the man been heading to his car to retrieve a non-work item, it can be argued that this act was not a specific work activity and as a result, he would likely not be successful in a workers compensation claim.
Employer responsibilities to you when working from home
It’s important to understand that as long as your employer has given you approval to work from home, they owe you a duty of care to ensure health risks and hazards around your work environment have been minimised. This includes workplace stress, poor workstation ergonomics, inappropriate home office designs etc.
To do so, your employer is essentially required to:
- Assess the suitability of your home environment prior to granting you approval to work from home
- Conduct a risk assessment of your home office setup in person or via video call
- Provide clear details on how to report any issues to your safety
- Provide specific details on how to perform your duties in a safe manner
- Grant you access to communication platforms
What can you claim for if you’re successful in your working from home accident claim?
If you’ve sustained a working from home injury you may be able to claim benefits for:
- Lost income
- Medical and travel expenses
- Domestic assistance
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent impairment
Can you claim workers compensation for a psychological injury suffered when working from home?
These factors can have a serious impact on your mental health if not properly addressed and symptoms of depression and anxiety as a result of working from home include:
- Sleeping issues or sleeping too much
- Increase in irritability, frustration and anger outbursts
- Increased fatigue
- Decreased confidence
You can claim workers compensation for a psychological injury as a result of working at home as long as you can prove work was the main contributing factor. This can sometimes be difficult to prove and it’s common for insurers to deny part or all of your claim. Having an experienced workers compensation insurer on your side can help you gather all the evidence including independent medical reports and ensure you claim your full entitlements.
Common working from home injuries
Despite not leaving your home to work, there are a number of potential hazards that exist around home office setups and direct passages that lead to your home office that can cause you serious harm.
Common injuries include:
- Repetitive Strain Injuries (often as a result of a poorly setup workstation)
- Migraines (often as a result of a poorly setup workstation)
- Broken upper limbs (often due to trips hazards)
- Psychological injuries