State Workers’ Compensation Board Removes Strict Standards
With more and more people working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions, workers’ compensation laws have changed. Until late 2020, New York had strict standards in place for workers, denying claims that did not occur during working hours and while the employee was actively involved in work duties.
That changed on October 22, when the 3rd Judicial Department of the Supreme Court Appellate Division overturned a board decision that would have denied an employee’s claim of injuries suffered during a work break. The appellate court criticized this rigid standard and it now appears as if remote workers will have a better chance of winning workers’ compensation claims when they suffer injuries while working from home.
That overturned decision will also likely lead to more workers’ compensation claims by telecommuters – as it should. Many remote workers are unaware of their rights to benefits from injuries they suffer while working from home. They erroneously believe that they have to suffer a workplace accident at their company’s physical location in order to receive compensation. This is not true at all. Now, under New York’s less rigid workers’ compensation standards, employees who suffer injuries while working from home may have a valid workers’ compensation claim, even when they are not actively engaged in their work activities.
The case in question involves a man who was working from home as a claims examiner. His employer provided him with a computer, but not a chair or desk. The man purchased these items, which were delivered to his home in boxes. He carried those boxes upstairs to his home office and was injured.
The state workers’ compensation board ruled that the man’s injury did not occur during his course of employment. However, the appellate court disagreed, stating that moving the furniture was sufficiently work-related, even though it was done during the man’s lunch hour.
That ruling set a precedent. Now, with the relaxed standards in place, claims are likely to be approved if remote employees are injured while on coffee breaks. The work-from-home environment is unique in its structure and this can be frustrating to employers, since they cannot monitor the home for safety issues. They lose a degree of control.
Employers can improve the safety of their remote employees by implementing clear procedures. For example, they should have defined working hours and work duties. Employers should also provide all required equipment for employees to ensure the proper tools are used for the job. This can help improve safety.
Contact Us for More Information About Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When employees work from home, the lines can be blurred when it comes to workplace injuries. Employers and courts were once hesitant to award compensation for injuries, but now the laws are more lenient.
Whether you were injured at your workplace or in your home office, White Plains workers’ compensation lawyer Michael Lawrence Varon can help you file a claim. Make sure you obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, fill out the online form or call (914) 228-1770.