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Volume X, Number 298

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“Wait, we insure employees at home?!”

BEST PRACTICES FOR MINIMIZING WORKER’S COMPENSATION LIABILITY FROM YOUR REMOTE WORKFORCE

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drags on, employers are continuing to wrestle with the limitations of outdated employment laws ill-suited for the modern workforce. Imagine Don Draper, Ward Cleaver or Rob Petrie settling in for their daily 9-to-5 from the kitchen table.

Squarely among the laws not specifically designed with the home office in mind is the worker’s compensation insurance system. Employers often are surprised to learn that they may be liable for employee injuries that occur off-premises at an employee’s home.

Worker’s compensation laws vary by state, but under most state laws, including Wisconsin’s, employers are liable for employee injuries that arise both out of and during the course of employment, regardless of the location where the injury occurs. In contrast, injuries that occur when an employee deviates from their working duties to undertake a task or activity for a strictly personal or private purpose are not typically compensable.

To minimize exposure to employee claims for injuries that occur while an employee is working from home, employers should consider implementing the following best practices for employees working remotely:

  • Require express written authorization before an employee can work remotely

  • Update and maintain accurate employee job descriptions and expectations, and confirm that employees understand the specific responsibilities of their positions when working from home

  • Require employees to specifically define their home office space and provide employees with information and training about safe workstation set-ups, consistent with your in-office practices

  • Create and maintain a safety checklist for home offices to ensure employee’s offices are free from any recognized hazards

  • Remind employees, in writing, of their obligation to promptly report all work injuries consistent with your worker’s compensation and safety policies, even if they occur at the remote worksite

  • Remind employees, in writing, of who should receive any reports of injuries that occur in their home office environment

  • Require both non-exempt and exempt employees to record and maintain a detailed record of actual time worked, including a detailed record of meal breaks and other personal breaks during the workday

NEXT UP: Remote Employee Performance Management

The next article in this series will cover employee performance management issues associated with remote and telecommuting employees.

Copyright © 2020 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 275
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About this Author

Aaron McCann, Godfrey Kahn Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney
Associate

Aaron McCann is an associate in the firm’s Green Bay office and a member of the Labor, Employment & Immigration Practice Group. Aaron’s practice is focused on counseling and advocating for employers through all aspects of an employment relationship, beginning with issues in recruitment and hiring at the outset and continuing through severance discussions, termination, and, when necessary, post-employment litigation. Aaron has guided many clients through the wide array of legal issues that frequently arise at the end of employment and has represented clients in...

920-436-7671
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Pete Albrecht has more than 30 years of experience representing small and large employers in their labor and employment legal needs. He has a strong foundation in traditional labor issues, including collective bargaining, arbitration hearings and unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The foundation of Pete’s labor and employment law practice stems from his experience as a litigator. He has a depth of experience with employment litigation, from depositions and summary judgment motions to contested hearings. This background enables Pete to provide his clients meaningful counsel on a range of labor and employment issues. He strives to always be one step ahead in hearings, at the negotiating table and in offering clients practical advice on how to avoid litigation altogether.

Pete literally wrote the book on Wisconsin employment law, having co-authored, “Hiring and Firing in Wisconsin,” a State Bar of Wisconsin publication.

Pete began his legal career in Chicago where he practiced employment law for eight years. He practiced with Godfrey & Kahn from 1994 to 2006, where he continued to focus on traditional labor and employment law. Prior to his return to Godfrey & Kahn in 2020, Pete had his own boutique labor and employment practice, Albrecht Backer Labor & Employment Law, S.C.

608.284.2218
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