Here’s an interesting piece of news: The Tennessee Supreme Court Expands Workers’ Compensation Coverage To Include Telecommuting.
Basically employers allow telecommuting to save money, improve employee retention, and other benefits that accrue to the business or else they wouldn’t do it. As such, they can’t withhold worker’s compensation coverage! I’d bet overall there will be far fewer claims from telecommuters however.
The plaintiff worked for the American Cancer Society in Nashville. When office space was lacking, she was allowed to convert a spare bedroom in her home into office space. The employer furnished the necessary office equipment and the plaintiff’s home office functioned as her work place. No designated work hours were set and plaintiff did not open her house while working; her normal routine was to lock the doors and set the alarm. On the date of injury, the plaintiff opened the door to a neighbor who ultimately assaulted and severely injured her while she was preparing lunch. The trial court granted summary judgment to the employer and the Supreme Court accepted review.
The court noted a line of previous decisions holding that the workers’ compensation act was to be liberally construed in favor of coverage for the employee. It also observed that the law was “a social welfare statute.” The court took notice of the trend toward telecommuting as a way for employers to reduce overhead and to improve employee retention, loyalty and morale.