Now that remote work is commonplace, the lines between the traditional workplace and home have blurred, raising new questions about workers’ compensation benefits. In California, as in many other states, workers’ compensation laws are evolving to address injuries sustained while working remotely.
If you’ve been harmed while working remotely in California, understanding how to navigate the workers’ compensation system is important because if you’re entitled to benefits, there is no reason you should have to shoulder the costs associated with your harm.
What you need to know
Traditionally, workers’ compensation covers injuries or illnesses that occur in the course and scope of employment, regardless of someone’s work location. In California, this includes remote work environments. However, proving that an injury is work-related can be more challenging when working remotely.
For an injury to be considered work-related, it must occur while performing work duties or activities that benefit the employer. Conditions that may be covered include, for example, a repetitive strain injury from prolonged computer use or a fall during a work-related video call. However, injuries occurring during personal activities or breaks may not qualify. As remote workers don’t usually have their employer’s virtual “eyes” on them at all times, proving that an injury occurred when working – instead of when someone was taking a break, for example – can be tough.
As a result, if you’re ever hurt while working remotely, you’ll want to document the circumstances surrounding your injury, including the time, the activity you were engaged in and how it occurred. If possible, take photos of your remote workspace, especially if the injury was related to your work environment or setup.
Once you’ve gathered evidence and sought medical treatment for your condition, it’s worth seeking legal guidance to better understand your rights and options. Making this effort will also allow you to benefit from support as you pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.