It isn't breaking news to most of us that working from home is becoming more and more popular in Queensland. This has been encouraged by the upsurge of the 'gig economy', flexible work terms and the facilitation of modern technology. But here is something to consider - what happens if you are injured while working from home and what are the legal ramifications? Are you entitled to claim for compensation from an employer if you are at home?
I'm injured while working from home - what happens?
An excellent example was in 2011 when a large Australian company was forced to pay legal and medical costs to an employee who was injured when working from home. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled this. The employee in question was working from home in Queensland and claimed to have slipped and fallen down the stairs. She was logged into her workstation but had taken a break to get some medicine. The company denied liability as the incident happened in a remote location, but the tribunal ruled that the fall had happened during the course of the employee's work, she was taking a short break as any employee is entitled to do.
If you have suffered an injury when working from home, the success of your claim will be dependent on whether or not it is deemed by law that the incident happened while working.
What obligations does my employer have?
The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 addresses the issue. It states that employees should be covered if an injury occurs including while working from home. Employers have a duty of care to employees who perform their functions away from the office.
As part of this, an employer must make reasonable provisions to ensure that workers are safe. This includes checking that the worker's home space is up to health and safety standards and carrying out a risk assessment. There should also be a comprehensive policy for working from home, outlining when and how often the employer will inspect the home area and when employees are expected to report issues relating to health and safety.
It is also up to an employee to take responsibility for their own safety at work. It is important that they assign a specific work area within the home and that during their business hours, others should not enter.
What if I'm a freelancer?
In Australia, an employer's worker's compensation policy does not cover contractors or freelancers. To be entitled to the benefits of worker's compensation you are recommended to take out your own insurance policy.
If you have been injured when working from the home and are unsure about compensation claims, we can help. Cairns Injury Lawyers can guide you through the compensation claims process. We have many years of legal experience and have been assisting Cairns locals with their claims for over twenty years.
Cairns Injury Lawyers are part of Preston Law, the largest law firm in Far North Queensland.