As the digital age advances, remote work is becoming a standard practice for many companies. For plenty of organizations and employees, telecommuting is an advantage that can influence recruitment, work-life balance and other key areas. However, the prevalence of remote work does also raise questions, including how to manage remote staffers and who is covered under workers' compensation laws.
We want to help you understand how using remote workers impacts your business. From understanding your small business workers' compensation insurance situation to setting sound policies, this is an important area you don't want to overlook.
Q: Do I have to cover workers' compensation for remote employees?
A: Yes, you do have to pay it for employees, regardless of where they conduct business. This means anyone who works for you is covered whether they're physically present in your facility or office or working from their home.
Q: How can I make sure I'm really responsible for a remote employee's injury?
A: Whether you're responsible for a work-related injury or not depends on your state's particular laws. There are still a few easy ways to get an idea of your responsibility, though. Make sure you have a clear telecommuting policy, review it with employees so they understand it's serious, and have them sign it in front of you and another person.
Q: How do I create a telecommuting policy?
A: You can use your telecommuting policy to make sure you clarify what's considered part of work and what is not, even when you're dealing with the same space. You might want to consult an employment attorney in your state to make sure your policy is compliant with local laws and to make sure your bases are covered.
A sound telecommuting policy might includes some of these considerations:
Q: How do I know where my employee is really working?
- Work hours
- Equipment used
- Time management
- Reporting or milestones
- Designated work area
- Proof of presence in the work area
A: You can enact some sort of check-ins, geo-tagging, equipment tracking or other milestone reporting that proves where your employee is. That way, if they get hurt, but they haven't checked in or equipment is somewhere outside a designated area, you may not be responsible for their injury. Without some of these safeguards, you may have to work on the honor system.
Q: Can I enter an employee's home to guarantee that it's safe?
A: This is up to your employee and your state. If your employee agrees to let you inspect their home, you're probably safe to proceed. Enter the home respectfully, see the designated work area, make sure it's safe, take a few photos – with the employee’s permission – for your own records, and leave in a timely manner. If you're unsure about entering someone's home, bring another employee or ask an attorney for advice.
Q: Do I have to cover workers' compensation for traveling employees?
A: Yes. If something happens at a hotel or other facility, you may have multiple insurance and legal claims at once. Your insurance agent and attorney can advise based on your situation.
When it comes to workers' compensation, we know small business owners have a lot to consider. Knowing who is covered under workers' compensation insurance
plan is essential for maintaining adequate coverage for your business and compliance with the law. Having smart policies in place, paired with quality insurance, is a recipe for maintaining a safe and happy workforce no matter where your staff spends their time.
The opinions expressed here by AmVenture.com columnists are their own, not those of AmVenture.com.