The public health emergency has resulted in large numbers of employees working from home. What happens if an employee is injured on the job while working remotely?
According to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, benefits may be awarded to an employee for injuries sustained outside the workplace so long as the employee “is actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer.” In City of Harrisburg v. WCAB (Gebhart), an off-duty police detective accidentally shot himself in the leg while removing his revolver from its holster after arriving at home. The PA Supreme Court ruled in the detective’s favor, and awarded him benefits because he was actively securing his weapon, which is considered an important part of his job, and there was no place for the detective to store his weapon on the job site.
In Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc. v. WCAB (Alston), an employee received a work call while grabbing a glass of juice in her kitchen, headed for her basement home office and fell down the stairs injuring her neck. As the employee was on a work-related phone call and heading to her remote place of work at the time of the accident, benefits were awarded to the injured employee.
Whether an employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in these types of situations requires a fact-specific analysis. It is important to note that these protections only extend to “on the clock” and “for employee personal comfort” designations. For example, an employee injured while using the restroom or grabbing a snack would still merit compensation. An employee injured while walking his dog during working hours would not.
As the pandemic and mandatory stay at home orders continue, the number of working-from-home-related injuries is likely to increase. If you are an employee who has been injured either on the job site or while performing your job duties outside the office, contact our firm today and ask to speak with Gregory E. Sciolla, Esquire, Heidi E. Anderson, Esquire, or Christopher P. Fleming, Esquire. For Pennsylvania matters, call (215) 567-1530. For New Jersey matters, call (856) 273-6679. Or email us at any time at [email protected].