There are a record number of Australians working from home right now. Thanks to the pandemic, almost 2.6 million Australians nationwide have said goodbye to the office and hello to making their home suitable for daily office use. Because of this increase in people working from home, the number of incidents causing working from home injuries has also increased. This blog will look at the specifics of workers compensation and explain how it may play out when a claimant is working from home.   

Are you still eligible for workers compensation when working from home?  

Yes, you are absolutely still eligible for workers compensation when working from home. Regardless of where your workspace is, your employer is still responsible for providing you with a safe workspace. Under all types of WorkCover, regardless of state, you are covered if you suffer an injury  “arising out of or in the course of any employment”. This includes if you are working from home. However, it must be remembered that similarly to if you were working on-site or in the office, you would still have to prove that your injury happened while you were working. 

What criteria would be examined when approaching a WFH workers compensation claim? 

There will be several factors examined when a workers comp claim is made. There needs to be a determination of whether the liability for injury lies with the employer. These reasons can include: 

  • Was the employer benefiting from the employee’s actions when the injury occurred? 
  • Did the employer require the employee to engage in the injury-causing activity?
  • Did the employer approve the off-site activity in advance?

If you are unsure of whether your claim would be successful, let’s have a look at two working from home situations where one injury is work-related, and the other is not. 

  1. Did you get repetitive strain injury because you repeatedly worked through your lunch break with long hours sat in your working from the home office? This is work-related and you are probably covered. 
  2. Did you sustain and injury while sitting at your desk after work-hours? This probably isn’t covered because it is after work hours have finished and cannot be determined that it is work-related. 

What obligations do employers have to make a safe environment for at-home workers?

Employers still have a duty of care for workers under the Workplace Health and Safety Act of 1995. This includes workers that are now working from home. Under this legislation, employers must take steps to ensure a home work environment still meets workplace health and safety requirements. They can do this by completing a risk assessment of your home office setup. 

A good working from home policy should include:

  • Gives clear instructions on how to perform your duties safely, 
  • State when or how the employer will inspect the home environment,
  • Provide information on when and how employees should report potential health and safety issues.

As with all work situations, the employee also has a responsibility to look after their own safety and keep their work area safe.