Injured While Working From Home: Can You Claim Workers’ Compensation?

Article David Pena 13 September 2022

Work patterns have changed considerably over the past two years.  Multiple waves of COVID, major weather events and increasing flexibility in the workplace have seen a large percentage of employees working from home for at least part of their working week.   So, what happens if you suffer an injury while working from home?  Are you still covered by your employer’s workers compensation policy?

Can you still claim compensation?

While the shift away from the office is generally seen as a positive change, it does have a number of implications, not least of which is the employer’s lack of control over the working environment and how the employee spends their ‘work’ time.

Responsibility of the Employer

An employer is responsible for an employee’s safety during the course of their work – whether they are working in an office, a construction site, or from their own home. 

If an employee has been given permission to work from their home then an employer must take all necessary steps to ensure that the employee is safe and that their work environment at home meets with the necessary workplace health and safety requirements.  For example, an employer should think about whether the employee’s desk is adequate for the task they are undertaking, whether there is enough space to conduct their work without injuring themselves, and whether their chair is at the correct height to avoid strain injuries etc.

Responsibility of the Employee

An employee is responsible for their own actions, whether they are at home or in the workplace, and for taking reasonable care to ensure they stay safe.  When working from home, this may include setting up an appropriate space in the home to work from, keeping other family members or pets from entering the space to avoid distractions or accidents, and ensuring that the area is generally as ‘risk-free’ as possible. 

If a worker is injured while working from home it can be difficult to determine whether the injury was sustained during the course of their work. 

The Workers Compensation Act covers injuries sustained during work, but also those sustained during a break in work taken for the purposes of “refreshment or relaxation” such as a lunchbreak.  So, it is likely that a worker may be able to claim workers’ compensation for an injury sustained while making their lunch for instance because it is reasonable to expect that they be granted a lunchbreak, but perhaps not for an injury that happened if they were hanging their washing out between Zoom meetings or cleaning the windows!

Do you need advice?

If you are working from home and think that you may be entitled to claim workers’ compensation for an injury you have sustained, contact our experienced personal injury team for advice.  Led by Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, David Pena, we can help you to determine whether you are eligible to claim and guide you through the process.  Call 02 8556 0130 to speak with one of the team today.