For the past year thousands of people have been working from home, but it leads to the question who is liable if you have an accident at work, while working from home?
It’s now widely discussed whether or not this is an element of working life that will change for good. Will remote working become more widely accepted or will everyone immediately rush back to the office?
While everyone can imagine the hazards of working on construction sites and manufacturing plants (to name just a few) we don’t automatically consider the potential pitfalls relating to offices or as we now experience… home working. So what exactly are your rights if you have an accident while working from home?
How Should Employers Mitigate for Home Working Accidents and Your Rights?
While not being ‘as’ dangerous as heavy industrial working environments, nonetheless remote working isn’t without its own accidents-waiting-to-happen scenarios.
Wherever and whenever you work, there’s always a risk – however slight – that you could suffer an accident. Despite its perceived low risk status, homeworkers are not immune to injury.
Employers need to have in place procedures which encourage homeworkers to report accidents when working remotely. According to employers’ duties under regulations 3 and 4 of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981/917, re: home working staff, employers should ensure they have adequate and appropriate provision of equipment and facilities at home, should they sustain an injury while working remotely.
You’ve Suffered an Accident While Home-working. What Are Your Rights?
Your employer is expected to take reasonable care for an employees’ safety even when working remotely. To get technical, Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) stipulates that employers must:
- Provide safe systems of work (and working equipment)
- Provide relevant information, instruction, supervision, and training
- Provide a safe working environment
- Make arrangements for workers’ welfare at work
- Prepare (and revise) risk assessments
Although the rules within current legislation don’t specifically apply to domestic premises as such, they do carry weight. However, the feasible reach would be significantly restricted due to the lack of control your employer has over your home.
Put simply, existing health and safety governance which extend to conventional workplace environs don’t apply to employees’ homes in the same way. That being said, employers are still legally-bound by a duty of care to their workforce in terms of their wellbeing, and need to be aware of home working accidents and your rights.
Is My Employer Responsible for My Home Working Health and Safety, or Am I?
A lot of people will be asking if their employer’s duty of care extends to their team’s health and safety provisions under current remote-working scenarios. Especially to determine what constitutes home working accidents and your rights.
Employers’ health & safety duties do not stop just because employees are forced to work from home during lockdowns. Yet employers are only liable if an accident was due to their negligence. If it was proven that they failed to take reasonable care for your safety, and the accident transpired due to a lack of care on their behalf.
So the short answer is no. An employer’s duty of care isn’t transferable to domestic premises and would be viewed on a case-by-case basis if a personal injury claim is lodged against an employer.
The successful transition of working practices from a factory to a home environment with regards to the manufacturing of garments for example, would hinge on space. Ensuring that a home-worker wouldn’t be susceptible to trip hazards or falling stock, etc. Liability therefore would seldom rest with an employer as they would have no control or management of an employee’s home.
Employers Need to Ensure Remote Teams The Right Equipment
It is an employers’ responsibility to equip their teams with the tools to perform their duties and ensure that they are fit for purpose. Should an accident occur, then an employer could be considered negligent in the event that they’d not taken reasonable care for health and safety in that regard.
This means employers need to check – or provide – suitable equipment to ensure employee safety. Homeworkers need to be encouraged to adopt comfortable working environments that don’t impact negatively on physical or mental wellbeing. Adjustable chairs, ergonomically-proficient workstations and home office furniture being the primary concerns. Given the ramifications of Covid-19 however, when taking into account the serious and exceptional situations caused by national lockdowns, and courts might be more lenient with employers should a personal injury claim for a workplace injury be pursued.
If you have suffered an accident in your workplace and you believe you have gathered evidence to support a claim for personal injury, then get in touch with DIYPI today to see how we can help you on your compensation journey.