One of the many ways that COVID has changed the world forever is at the office. The previously small amount of the working population that worked from home ballooned as working from home became a necessity during the pandemic. To employers’ pleasant surprise, it has been found that working from home has led to more productivity and more employees working more hours. Due to this, working from home appears to be here to stay. According to a study, 82% of employers plan to allow their employees to work from home at least some of the time and 47% plan to let employees to work remote all of the time.
While this sounds like a win-win for both employees and employers, there are some things to consider when working from home or allowing your employees to work from home - specifically, workers’ compensation. This is of particular importance as the working from home era has also seen an increase in home injuries. According to the New York Times, chiropractors are seeing a large increase in neck pain, back pain, or other musculoskeletal issues since the beginning of the pandemic. From the employer perspective, this is likely due to a loss of control over working conditions.
Having an employee working fully from home could possibly result in injuries and illnesses that are caused in that workspace, during the course of their employment, to be covered under workers’ compensation. For those employers that attempt to institute a hybrid model, additional items must be considered to determine the home as a place of employment. When determining if the home is a workplace, Iowa courts generally weigh factors such as 1) the amount of work one does from home; 2) if there is work equipment located in the home and the amount of time it is located in the home; and 3) other special circumstances that may make it necessary, and not just convenient, to work at home.
It is possible that many hybrid situations will result in workers’ compensation coverage being applicable to the home, depending on the specific facts of each case.
Should you believe yourself injured while working from home or have a remote work workers’ compensation claim brought against your business, it is best to consult a licensed attorney to determine if the facts meet the requirements for workers’ compensation coverage under Iowa law.
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