The Oregon Court of Appeals recently reversed a lower Court decision denying workers compensation coverage to an employee inured during the course of working from home. This decision is really important to consider as more employers engage in work from home and telecommuting. A link to the Court decision is pasted below. Some key language the Court of Appeals used was that “If an employer, for its own advantage, demands that a worker furnish the work premises, the risks of those premises encountered in connection with the performance of work are risks of the work environment, even if they are outside of the employer’s control, and injuries resulting from those risks arise out of the employment”. The full update from Portland area employment law firm Sussman Shank is pasted below.
Full Court decision:
The June issue of HR magazine also covers the issue of telecommuting further. The article mostly focuses on costs and benefits of telecommuting and not the possible safety issues.
Sussman Shank eAlert: Dog Trips Employer:
“In a recent Oregon Court of Appeals case, an employee challenged the denial of workers’ compensation coverage for an injury she sustained when she tripped over her dog on the way from her house to her garage. The employee worked as an interior designer and traveled by van to customers’ homes to sell decorating products (draperies, window treatments, and upholstery). The employee worked from her employer’s premises one day per week, but because the employer did not have adequate space for the employee to perform all of her work tasks on-site, the employee was required – as a condition of her employment – to work from her home, and to store fabric samples and materials provided by her employer for her job, in her garage.
In order to be compensable, an injury must arise out of, and occur in the course of, an employee’s employment. The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) found that the employee’s injury was not covered because it did not “arise out of her employment.” On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the WCB and found that: “if an employer, for its own advantage, demands that a worker furnish the work premises, the risks of those premises encountered in connection with the performance of work are risks of the work environment, even if they are outside of the employer’s control, and injuries resulting from those risks arise out of the employment.” The court concluded that because the employee “was where she was, doing what she was, because of the requirements of her employment,” her injury arose out of her employment, and remanded the case for reconsideration. http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A140276.htm
Employers need to be aware that work-related injuries do not have to occur at work to be covered, and that the location of the occurrence will not necessarily determine coverage.”