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Are employees entitled to compensation for injuries sustained at home while work

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Employers in recent years are more inclined to grant employees flexible work arrangements including working from home. The result is that many employees are not restricted to traditional physical locations such as an office. Recent cases have shined a light on the laws surrounding these arrangements and the conflict with worker’s compensation for injuries.
For employers, the flexibility granted to employees comes with some degree of risk. The careful controls and Workplace Health and Safety procedures employers invest significant resources to implement around the office may not be suited to a home environment where the risks of injury are outside their control.
The important question is whether the injury arises out of or in connection with the course of employment. This includes injuries which are sustained;
  1. While physically in the place of employment, or
  2. While temporarily absent from the place of employment for an ordinary recess, for example a regular or scheduled break.
If an employee takes a “frolic”, for example by going for a run in the middle of the day, this is not an ordinary recess. Other examples of frolics include;
  • Where an employee courier driver deviates from the route the employer planned for them,
  • Where an employee goes somewhere the employer told them not to go, and
  • Where an employee takes more breaks than the employer prescribes.
The take-home message (sorry, couldn’t resist!) is that simply because employees are granted flexible working arrangements, they are not necessary entitled to compensation for injuries that arise while working flexibly from home.

A lesson for employers is to ensure adequate controls are established for the employee’s home environment. We advise clients that this is best accomplished by giving the employee