THESE days, with advances in technology, and changing workplace cultures, more and more people get the chance to do work from the comfort of their home. But what happens if you suffer injuries in an accident? Are you protected just like in a “traditional” work arrangement?
If you work from home, your employer still owes you the same duty of care which applies when you are at work. The employer must take reasonable steps to satisfy itself that the work environment is safe from hazards. In this sense, your home is considered your place of work.
If you have to leave your home, it gets a bit more complicated. In fact, two people working for the same employer doing the same work can have different entitlements depending on whether they work from home or from the office.
Say, for example, you work for an employer with several premises within a geographical area, and you have to regularly visit these. If you start your day in your “home office” by responding to a few emails and then in the afternoon you drive to one of your employer’s premises, this will be considered a trip between “home” and “work”, not between “work” and “work”. This means that if you are involved in a car accident, there are two consequences. The first is that you can still claim WorkCover compensation payments, even if your employer had nothing to do with the accident. The second is that if you sue the negligent driver (i.e. not your employer) the amount you can recover is significantly limited by legislation.
What if, instead of starting from home, you start work at your “real” workplace, and then drive to a different work location? The situation is very different. Unlike in the example above, now you can’t claim WorkCover compensation payments unless you prove that your employment was a “significant contributing factor” to your injury. But, if you can prove this then not only are you entitled to WorkCover compensation, but in addition, the amount you can claim from the negligent driver would not be limited by legislation.
All of which means that, at least in certain situations, the employee in the second example can potentially recover much more in compensation than the employee who works from home.