Florida Workers’ Compensation While Working From Home
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more workers have been given the option to work outside of the office – namely, at home. However, the increasing number of workers doing their jobs remotely have created new questions and issues for workers’ compensation insurers. One of the most common concerns in this day and age is whether a worker who is authorized to work remotely can collect workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured during that time.
“In The Scope Of Employment”
Workers have been doing their jobs remotely for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic turned a small percentage into a flood, with the U.S.’ number of remote workers tripling between 2019 and 2021. While the work from home model is inefficient for some industries, others have reported significant increases in productivity after offering the option to work remotely. However, management has shown a distinct lack of confidence in knowing how best to oversee their employees from a distance.
Normally, if a person is injured while acting within the scope of their employment, that injury will be ruled compensable. An employee has not, historically, had to have been present on their employer’s physical premises in order to receive benefits as long as they were “on the clock,” so to speak, when their injury occurred. However, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal ruled in 2019 that employees engaged in remote work merit a different standard.
Sedgwick CMS v Valcourt-Williams
The injured appellee, Ms. Valcourt-Williams, was working at home one day when she tripped over her dog, causing injury. Since she was ‘on the clock,’ the appellee sought workers’ compensation benefits, and initially, the Judge of Compensation Claims approved the claim, arguing that the home environment essentially became the work environment. However, the District Court of Appeals reversed, in a ruling that will govern future work-from-home cases.
The court held that the environment was not, per se, the issue – rather, the issue was the risk. It held that since the appellee could have tripped over her dog during working hours or off hours – in other words, that the risk existed both on and off the clock – that the injury did not arise “out of the scope of employment.” Unless future plaintiffs can establish that the risk of injury became worse while on the job and lessened off the job, Sedgwick will likely control, denying remote workers benefits in most cases.
Contact A Winter Park Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Working remotely can be an enormous advantage to an employee, particularly if they must juggle other responsibilities. However, it is crucial to be aware that at least in Florida, injuries may go uncompensated if incurred at home. If you have questions or concerns about an injury at work, calling a Winter Park workers’ compensation attorney from the Hornsby Law Group may help to get them answered. We are happy to try and help you. Call our office today for a free consultation.