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Colorado Telecommuters and Workers’ Compensation

Do employees who work from home or remotely still qualify for workers’ compensation coverage in the event of a job-related injury? Colorado attorney Mack Babcock discusses your rights.

In 2015, Colorado rose above all other states as having the most telecommuters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 7% of all Rocky Mountain State residents telecommute on a permanent or part time basis.  Many employers offer this benefit because it saves them money and also allows employees more flexibility and a better quality of life. 

The internet, video conferencing, email and cell phones all make working from home a good choice for many employees.  But, if an employee is injured while working remotely, are they still eligible for workers’ compensation? These situations can be complicated.

Employers must set clear and defined work parameters for their telecommuting employees

When an individual telecommutes and suffers an injury while working, workers’ compensation is not as cut-and-dry as when an employee is injured onsite or in the office.

An employer has more control over making certain an employee is working in a safe environment while at the employer’s premises. When a person telecommutes, however, the employer loses some of that control.  Unfortunately, there is not a way for the employer to be 100% sure that an employee’s home is a safe work environment.

Determining When Workers’ Compensation is Due

According to the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee’s illness or injury is compensable when, at the time of the injury, the employee was performing services arising out of and in the course of his or her employment.

If the employee was injured while working from home, the employer and employee must agree on whether the individual was injured while performing a work duty that was authorized by the employer.  If the answer is yes, and both parties agree, then workers’ compensation would apply to this situation.

There are several questions that must be asked when an individual is injured while working offsite to determine if workers’ compensation is owed:

  • Did the injury take place in a location the employer authorized and would expect the individual to be working?

  • Can it be proven that the individual was performing employer-authorized work duties when they sustained the injury or illness?

  • Did the injury take place during appointed work hours?

  • Was the employee acting in a negligent manner or performing unexpected job tasks?

  • Was the employee attending to work matters that were approved, or were they injured while engaging in personal non-work approved activities?

If your employer allows you to telecommute, it is necessary to make certain there is clear communication and understanding regarding workers’ comp policies.  Some employers elect to draft a special telecommuting agreement with their employees, which basically states where the individual will be working, what duties will be performed away from the office, and sets clear productivity standards and expectations. The employer has a right to terminate telecommuting privileges if the standards are not being met or productivity fails. These standards can also be beneficial when it comes to determining an employer’s duty to pay for work injuries while telecommuting.

Understanding the law and your rights when it comes to being injured at work can be difficult and confusing. If you are a Colorado telecommuter and have been injured while performing work duties, but your employer is refusing to grant workers’ compensation owed to you, call experienced workers’ compensation attorney Mack Babcock for a free consultation.

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Disclaimer
While the Babcock Law Firm tirelessly works to obtain successful outcomes for its clients, prior positive outcomes are no guarantee of future success. Indicating prior positive results is in no way intended to guarantee future results.

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