As the coronavirus rapidly spread throughout Oregon and the rest of the country, thousands of employees found themselves working from home. Working from home can help protect you and your loved ones from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. However, that does not mean other accidents and injuries will not happen in your home.
Due to stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 safety precautions, you may be working from home for several weeks or even months. If you are injured or become ill while performing your job duties, even if you are in your home, you still have rights as an employee.
On the other hand, some employers may not allow you to work from home during the pandemic. This may be due to security concerns or because virtual work is not possible in your field or your particular position. If this is the case, you have the right to expect that your employer will take the proper precautions to protect your health and safety while you are in the workplace or interacting with customers or clients in person.
The Oregon workers’ compensation attorney at Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C., knows that workers have many questions about their rights when it comes to workplace protections in the home and COVID-19 and exposure in the workplace. That is why we have provided the following information to help you understand your rights while working during this unprecedented time.
Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Many companies are allowing their employees to work from home to promote safe social distancing during COVID-19. However, there are many factors that a workplace must consider to ensure that they can meet their business needs as they make this transition to telework.
A work-from-home checklist helps companies across the country verify that you will be able to perform your duties from your home. Some of the elements of this checklist include:
- Reviewing client and customer contracts for factors which may prevent work-from-home
- Preparing IT infrastructure to support remote work
- Protecting company data and increasing online security measures
- Creating clear and consistent lines of communication between the employer and employees
- Developing remote work agreements to outline employee duties at home
- Reviewing company insurance coverage for workers at home
This checklist can help you understand some of the decisions and changes in your company that make remote work possible during COVID-19.
Ways to Protect Your Workplace from Coronavirus
If your employer determines you cannot work from home, they must make sure the work environment follows COVID-19 safety regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided information and guidance on how to increase workplace health protection during the Coronavirus. Their recommendations include:
- Encourage employees to wear masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when around those who are not in their “quarantine circle.”
- Develop and implement protections and flexibility for workers if they are sick.
- Increase the physical distance between employees to at least 6 feet.
- Develop an infectious disease response plan to implement if an employee contracts COVID-19.
- Create a procedure to identify sick employees, such as taking temperatures or administering COVID-19 tests.
- Educate employees about COVID-19 and prevention techniques.
Although these recommendations cannot wholly prevent coronavirus exposure, they are an essential part of making the workplace safer during the pandemic. If you contract COVID-19 because your employer failed to take the proper safety precautions, you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible about your legal options.
Worker Protections While Working from Home During COVID-19
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that protects employees after a work-related injury or illness. No matter whose fault caused the accident or injury, you could potentially file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation coverage exists to help injured and ill employees get medical treatment and recoup a portion of lost wages due to missed work. Oregon requires every company with at least one employee to carry workers’ compensation coverage to protect workers.
Although most worker’s comp claims arise from incidents at a company facility or jobsite, during the coronavirus pandemic, this is not always the case. If you are injured while working from home during COVID-19 in a work-related accident or if you develop an occupational illness, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Most workers’ compensation policies protect employees even if they are injured while working “off-site.” Working from your home with your employer’s knowledge and approval qualifies as working in an off-site location. For this reason, your company’s workers’ compensation policy should still cover your at-home work injury or illness.
The financial benefits you receive from a workers’ compensation claim are essential for protecting yourself and your future after an injury accident sidelines you. In many cases, workers’ compensation can help you cover injury-related expenses such as:
- Medical treatment
- Rehabilitation services
- A portion of your wages during time missed from work
- Temporary or permanent disability
If you are injured while working from home in a work-related accident, you need to talk to a lawyer right away about claiming workers’ compensation benefits. Your lawyer can help you file for workers’ compensation benefits and seek the full amount you’re entitled to.
Employer’s Guidelines During COVID-19
To protect and support employees working from home, employers may need to make significant adjustments to their standard mode of operation. These rapid and unexpected changes can be extremely challenging for everyone involved.
While transitioning to work-from-home employers should take into consideration:
- Accessibility needs and accommodations for employees with disabilities
- Local regulations that impact an employee’s work hours or wages
- Systems to monitor employees’ work progress and track hourly wages
- Additional need for communication to address technical problems and company changes
- Services to support employees who are facing physical, emotional, or financial distress resulting from COVID-19
These guidelines can help employers make sound business and legal decisions, so working during COVID-19 is a smooth as possible.
Get Help from Our Workers’ Compensation Injury Lawyer Now
The Oregon workplace injury lawyer at Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C., is committed to protecting workers in our community. We are taking the coronavirus threat very seriously and are have implemented procedures to protect our clients and our staff. We are ready and able to provide the same experienced legal representation we’ve become known for, while also practicing safe social distancing.
Contact Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C. by phone or reach out to us online to schedule your free case evaluation. We will schedule a virtual consultation by Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or another method to make sure you can discuss your case from the comfort of your own home.