Working from home and “telecommuting” is becoming increasingly popular among companies across Canada. Improvements in technology make it much easier to interact and communicate with machinery, processes and people over distance. This style of work, typically termed “Telework”, is an agreed upon arrangement where employees can work from home for anywhere from 1-5 days a week. Telework is now seen as one of the top non-financial benefits that employers can provide to employees(1).
Because of the increased amount of telework, it is important to consider safety and worker’s compensation factors. The worker’s compensation board of Alberta (WCB Alberta), for example, has provided a helpful fact sheet to address compensation issues with teleworkers (2).
Issue 1: Reporting Injuries
• As employers, it is important to recognize your responsibility to still report and record injuries when teleworking. Just because the injury is not occurring at the physical workplace, it may still be work-related(2).
Issue 2: Defining a Home Workspace
• WCB will generally only cover an injury claim when the incident occurs in a defined workspace, or during an activity that is directly related to the job tasks2.
• Therefore, as employers, it is recommended that before beginning telework with an employee, a detailed description of the workspace and job tasks are outlined in a Telework Agreement(2).
Issue 3: Time and Location Considerations
• When considering if a claim is work-related, WCB will also consider specific circumstances of the claim, such as: where the incident occurred, whether it was on work time, whether it was part of specified work duties, whether it was using equipment supplied by the employee or employer. Therefore, these details should be included in a telework agreement (2).
• Telecommuting needs to be authorized by an employer and does not include sporadic situations where employees bring home work after working hours2.
• Anytime the teleworker is travelling for work purposes, if an incident occurs, it would be considered for coverage by WCB (2).
Click on the following link to see specific examples when incidents reported by Teleworkers are probably, or probably not covered by WCB:
1 Lister, K. Harnish, T. (2013) WORKshift Canada: The Bottom Line on Telework. Telework Research Network.
2 WCB Employer Fact Sheet. Telecommuting. http://www.wcb.ab.ca/pdfs/employers/EFS_Telecommuting.pdf