Are remote workers covered under Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation law? With the increase in the number of people working from home, this is a very valid question. If you are hurt while on the job, but you are working from a desk in your home, do you have coverage?
In other words, can an employee seek workers’ comp benefits for an injury that they sustained while working from home? Workers’ compensation for remote workers remains a gray legal area, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced legislators to clarify state laws addressing the issue. A study reported by the New York Times found that as much as 12% of workers are fully remote, while about 60% of those work full-time at home.
Are Work-at-Home Injuries Compensable Under Workers’ Comp Law?
Whether or not a work-from-home employee can obtain workers’ compensation for their injury at home depends on the facts surrounding the worker’s injury, particularly whether the employee was performing “employment services” at the time of the incident. The issue was addressed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2017. In Brown v. Claims Management Resources, Inc., a worker had finished performing their job duties, clocked out, and was on their way to leave the office when an injury occurred.
The worker’s work area was located on the second floor of the employer’s premises, so the worker had to walk down the stairs. He was injured while descending the interior stairwell, though the worker was not able to identify what caused him to fall. The Commission ruled that the worker was not entitled to workers’ comp benefits because he had already clocked out when the accident happened, and the ruling was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals.
However, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling and found that the worker was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because the injury occurred while performing “employment services” in the course and scope of employment. The Court issued an opinion in which it specified what constituted “employment services.”
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What Are Employment Services Under Oklahoma’s Workers’ Compensation Law?
The Court ruled that the definition of “employment services” includes not only performing tasks that a worker’s employer specifically gave but also “other necessities of employment specified by the employer.”
A “Guide for Injured Workers” by the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission provides that injured employees must prove that their injury arose out of the employment and occurred in the course of employment.
The definition also includes activities conducted by the employee at other locations designated by their employer when the employer specifically directs the performance of such activities.
Can Remote Workers Obtain Workers’ Compensation Law in Oklahoma?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers who were forced to shut down their offices directed their employees to work from home. Are work-from-home employees entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain an injury at home?
Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2017 and the definition of “employment services,” a work-from-home injury could be compensable under Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation law. However, whether or not a work-from-home injury is compensable under workers’ comp law will depend on various factors, including:
- The timing of the injury;
- The location of the accident; and
- Other circumstances surrounding the injury.
Keep in mind that if you are self-employed or working as an independent contractor, your access to this coverage may be different and limited.
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How to Find Out if You Have a Workers’ Compensation Claim
To determine if you have a claim for workers’ compensation while working at home under Oklahoma law, don’t simply file a claim and face an immediate denial. Work with our workers’ compensation attorney to determine if your claim may be covered first, as that will allow us to work closely with you to determine what evidence and data can help to support your claim.
If you’ve been denied coverage for a workers’ compensation claim you believe should be awarded, turn to an attorney before you appeal that decision. Your attorney can help you to determine what additional information and evidence may be necessary to prove your claim.
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Turn to a Trusted Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Remote Workers in Oklahoma for Guidance
Consult with an Oklahoma workers’ compensation for remote workers attorney to review your particular case and determine whether you can seek compensation for your work-from-home injury while working remotely. Contact the Law Firm of BDIW Law to schedule a free case review. Call our office to schedule a consultation.
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