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Ohio House Bill 447, A Recent Amendment to Workers’ Compensation for Remote Employees

The Covid-19 pandemic reshaped how Americans view and perform work. According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of workers in 2022 work from home all the time or most of the time. An additional 18% report working from home part of the time, indicating that almost 80% of the American workforce engages in some degree of work from home employment.[1]

While the 59% figure cited above represents a drop from the all-time high of 71% of workers working from home in 2020, 2022’s numbers are still much higher than the pre-pandemic work-from-home rate of 23%.

In short, though the harshest aspects of the pandemic are in the past and though the vast majority of workplaces once again offer in-person employment options, there are still more than double the Americans choosing to work from home today than in the pre-pandemic days. Covid-19 completely changed how Americans work, causing a never-before-seen surge in work-from-home enthusiasm and normalization.
How Does a Surge in Work from Home Employment Change Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation has traditionally been seen as monetary compensation due to an employee recovering from an injury sustained while working for an employer. Most workers’ compensation claims have traditionally revolved around workers sustaining injuries while on the workplace premises or while performing transportation tasks for the employer.

But what happens when a worker injures themselves while working from home? The shift to remote work for millions of Americans has raised novel questions about workers’ compensation.

On June 24th, 2022, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine attempted to answer some of those questions by signing House Bill 447. The law has many facets, but the primary effect of the law is as follows.[1]

An injury sustained by a worker while working at home for an employer is not an injury eligible for workers’ compensation unless:

The injury arises directly from the employee’s employment activities.

The injury was caused by a special hazard connected to the employment activity.

The employee sustained the injury while undertaking a task for the exclusive benefit of the employer.
What Should You Do When You Get Injured While Working from Home?
HB 447 seems to add additional burdens on employees, requiring them to provide more evidence and reach a very high bar in proving their injury was directly caused by their employment. Because every case is different, it’s next to impossible to provide real-world examples of what would and would not constitute a valid workers’ compensation claim. From injuring oneself with a tool while working at home and assembling parts for an employer to tripping and falling when getting up to get a glass of water during a conference call, each case will require detailed evaluation and examination to determine the worker's rights and avenues afforded them.

The best strategy is to seek help from the experts. Knowledgeable and experienced workers’ compensation counsel at NRS Injury Law can provide unmatched advice on proceeding in the unfortunate event of a work-from-home injury. Call NRS Injury Law today at 855.977.6670 to learn more.

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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