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How Did Covid-19 and Remote Work Change Workers’ Compensation Laws?

Even as more in-person workplaces have become available and the labor market continues to improve, most Americans still prefer working from home all or most of the time. That’s the thesis of a Pew Research paper that analyzed how work-from-home vs. in-person work has changed over the last few years.[1]
Remote Employment, A Changing Landscape for America’s Workers
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, only about 23% of American workers performed their work tasks from home. Today, that figure is 59%. Nearly two-thirds of Americans with jobs that could be done from home are performing their work from home all or most of the time. That figure reflects more than double the percentage of workers who worked from home before the pandemic, even as employers have resumed in-person work and have made places of work safe and acceptable to employees.

As the United States continues to shift to an information-based economy with a focus on technology, data, health care, marketing, digital business, and financial services, more Americans have the option to perform their work from the comfort and safety of their homes. And with the shifting business structures implemented to make work-from-home systems workable for millions of Americans during the pandemic, policymakers must now navigate the nuances of work-from-home as it pertains to health care and worker safety.
H.B. 447, New Regulations and Qualifications for Work from Home Workers’ Compensation Claims
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently signed a bill to iron out some details around work-from-home workers’ compensation claims. House Bill 447 is a lengthy document detailing provisions that employees must meet to be eligible for workers’ comp.[2]

In short, H.B. 447 outlines what constitutes an “injury” and what does not. To summarize the bill’s language, an incident that occurs while working from home is not an injury unless all of the following apply:

The employee’s injury arises out of the individual’s employment.

The injury was caused by a special hazard directly connected to the individual’s employment activity.

The worker sustained the injury during an activity undertaken by the individual for the employer's benefit.
Before H.B 447, injuries that occurred while working from home were taken up and analyzed similarly to injuries that occurred at the workplace. But in light of H.B. 447, workers who choose to work from home will have a much higher burden of proof when seeking compensation for injuries.
The Importance of Seeking Knowledgeable Counsel on Workers’ Comp
All workers’ compensation claims are fact-driven, meaning the facts of each case determine if the worker will be eligible for compensation. In light of H.B. 447, remote workers must provide more detailed facts and evidence to prove their case. That’s why seeking professional workers’ compensation counsel is important. Legal counsel can advise workers on what agreements to make, what questions to ask, and what investigations must be done to ensure a proper defense should a worker’s claim be contested.

Contact NRS Injury Law at 855.977.6670 to ensure you have the best representation in your corner when approaching a work-from-home workers’ compensation settlement.

Sources:

[1] PEW. “COVID-19 Pandemic Continues To Reshape Work in America.” Pew Research Center, 2022. pewresearch.org

[2] Ohio General Assembly. “HB 447.” 134th General Assembly, Amended House Bill Number 447, 2022. search-prod.lis.state.oh.us

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