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“Workplaces” May Now Vary, Don’t Get Tripped Up “Workplaces” May Now Vary, Don’t Get Tripped Up

“Workplaces” May Now Vary, Don’t Get Tripped Up

The best way to reduce worker’s compensation costs is to have a strong safety program. Training employees and reinforcing work rules can help avoid workplace accidents and may provide defenses to worker’s compensation claims. Does your current safety program address remote working arrangements? 

Many employers have developed hybrid work expectations to address employees’ desire not to return to work locations on a full-time basis. Safety policies should also change to reflect these work environments. Here are some things to consider that might help define the scope of employment and the employer’s expectations, as well as ensure compliance: 
  • Verify worker’s compensation insurance requirements in all states in which employees work. Provide notice of this insurance.
  • Set expectations for remote working situations.
    • Define work hours. This can help reduce ambiguous factual situations. In some situations, employers may require electronic timekeeping or time-management reports.
    • Communicate standards for a home office. Is there a designated space with specific equipment? 
    • Communicate expectations regarding the pursuit of other personal tasks, such as childcare and homework assistance. These activities could present deviations from the course of employment.
    • Communicate safety/work rules. Employers have a general duty to provide a safe work environment. Remind employees that work rules apply to home-work settings, as well.
    • Train/Retrain employees on safety policies. Continue to emphasize safety rules and evaluate ergonomics, just as you would if the employee were on-site.
    • Remind employees that work restrictions apply equally to remote-working situations and personal activities.
  • Remind employees of the claim-reporting process. Prompt reporting will allow for prompt investigation and responses.
  • Develop clear investigation processes.
It may not be possible to eliminate worker’s compensation risks from accidents in homes or remote-work areas; however, employers may reduce these risks by implementing work-from-home policies and communicating safety expectations upfront. Employers should have a process in place to investigate and respond timely when claims are raised.

For additional information on this topic, contact Ann Stewart or any member of Ice Miller’s Workplace Solutions Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.
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