Health and Safety

Remote Work Injuries and Workers’ Compensation: A Guide for Employers  Copy

December 29, 2023

Ensuring a safe workplace is one of the most important tasks for employers. Safe workplaces benefit everyone, and safe employees are happy and productive employees. But now that workplaces can range from a company office to an employee’s home, it’s important to consider safety in a variety of environments. 

Accidents can happen anywhere an employee works—even at home. These accidents can result in varying degrees of injury. Employers and employees generally must report injuries that occur in the course of employment (or in the course of work). Let’s look at three common questions around remote work injuries. 

How do I determine whether I should report an injury? 

If an accident happens while one of your employees is working from home, you should check your jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation board (WCB). Each jurisdiction’s WCB sets out requirements for reporting work-related injuries.  

There are two steps to determining whether to report an injury: 

  1. Determine whether the injury occurred in the course of employment.  

Refer to the employment nexus, which varies by jurisdiction, for the criteria to determine whether an injury occurred in the course of employment. 

  1. Determine whether the injury meets the criteria set out by the specific WCB.  

It is important you know the specific requirements for your jurisdiction. For example, some WCBs do not require injuries to be reported if the employee does not require medical attention or if they did not need to take time off work due to the injury.  

How can I promote safe work practices? 

Employers should take all reasonable measures to ensure that all workplaces are safe. You may be used to standard health and safety practices in the office, such as conducting workplace hazard assessments. Things get a bit trickier when it comes to remote work because you have limited control over your employees’ workplaces. Remote work also comes with its own unique health and safety concerns

Protecting employees’ health and safety is important no matter where they are working. One of the ways you can promote safe remote work environments is to have clear health and safety policies and practices in place for employees working from home. This can help prevent injuries you may be liable for, and fewer injuries means lower WCB premium rates. It’s also good practice to provide training to help employees understand safe work practices and how to set up a safe workspace. 

What are my obligations around workers’ compensation and injuries? 

Despite your best efforts, accidents may still happen. As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring your employees know when and how to report work injuries. You should also take reasonable measures to make sure similar incidents don’t occur again. This involves analysing accidents when they do happen and understanding the cause and circumstances of the injury.