Paper Trails

Does workers’ comp cover remote employees?

The recent shift to remote and hybrid work has brought about many changes and questions.  This is especially true for small business owners that have to navigate the payroll and HR challenges that remote work brings.  One concern that may arise for small business owners is when an employee injury occurs to an employee working remotely.  They may wonder, “does my workers’ comp policy cover remote employees?” This question can feel overwhelming, but understanding the basics can help ease your worries.

At Paper Trails, we are passionate about helping small businesses navigate all of the complexities that payroll, HR, and small business management brings. In this article, we will dive into this question about remote employees and workers’ compensation.  While reading, you’ll learn all about workers’ comp for remote employees, how it works, and what you can do to ensure your remote workers are covered.  Let’s get going.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that covers employees who are injured at work or while performing work related duties. This type of insurance is required by most states for businessse to carry in order to cover their workforce. The insurance is used in the case of injury to cover things like:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Job retraining
  • Disability benefits
  • Funeral services

Workers’ compensation insurance removes liability from the business in case of injury. The employee waives their right to hold an employer accountable when injury occurs and receives payment for the above items like lost wages and medical bills.

So, what about when a workplace injury occurs to an employee when they are working for home?

Does workers’ comp cover remote employees?

Yes, remote employees are generally covered by workers’ comp, just like those who work on-site. However, there are some specific considerations to keep in mind. First, the key factor is whether the injury occurred “in the course and scope of employment.” This means the injury must happen while the employee is doing their job duties. This can be much easier to track in the office where work activities are more clearly defined and supervised, compared to at the employee’s home, where the lines between work and personal life can blur.

For example, if a remote worker slips and falls while getting up from their desk during work hours, these injuries are typically covered. However, if they get hurt while doing something unrelated to work, like tripping over a toy while getting a snack, it might not be covered. The challenge lies in proving that the injury is directly related to work tasks, which requires thorough documentation and clear policies.

Second, you must have workers’ comp insurance in the state in which the employee is physically working, not just the state in which you operate.  For example, a Maine business with a remote employee working in Massachusetts, must ensure that they have workers’ compensation insurance in Massachusetts.

Steps to take when a remote employee is injured

If a remote employee is injured, it’s important to act quickly and follow these steps:

  1. Report the Injury: The employee should inform you about the injury as soon as possible. Timely reporting is crucial to ensure that all necessary information is captured while details are fresh.
  2. Document the Incident: Keep detailed records of what happened, including any evidence that shows the injury was work-related. This might include photographs of the injury site, witness statements (if any), and a description of the employee’s activities leading up to the injury.
  3. File a Claim: Submit the workers’ comp claim to your insurance company promptly. Ensure that all necessary documentation and evidence are included to support the claim.

Additionally, maintain regular communication with the injured employee throughout the process. By following these steps, you can ensure that your remote employees receive the benefits they need and that the process goes smoothly.

Tips for reducing workers’ comp claims for remote employees

While injuries are generally accidental and hard to eliminate, preventing injuries is always better than dealing with them after they happen. Here are some potential tips to help keep your remote employees safe:

  1. Create a Safe Workspace: Encourage employees to set up a workspace with a proper chair, desk, and equipment. This includes ensuring that their monitor is at eye level, their chair provides adequate back support, and their desk allows for a comfortable working posture.
  2. Provide Training: Offer training on how to work safely from home, including proper posture, taking regular breaks to stretch, and exercises to avoid repetitive strain injuries. Consider providing resources to your remote employees on certain practices and home office setup.
  3. Develop a Telecommuting Policy: Outline clear guidelines for work hours, break times, and reporting injuries. Make sure employees understand the importance of sticking to these guidelines to maintain a healthy work-life balance and minimize the risk of injuries.  This is a policy that should be included in your employee handbook.

Additionally, encourage employees to periodically review and adjust their work environment to ensure it remains safe and comfortable. By taking these proactive steps, you can help reduce the risk of injuries and make sure your remote employees are working in a safe environment. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can also help identify any potential issues before they lead to injuries.


Understanding workers’ comp for remote employees is crucial in today’s work environment. While it may seem complex, the key is to ensure that injuries occurring during work tasks are covered. At Paper Trails, we are here to support you in managing these challenges, so you can focus on running your business smoothly.  Remember, taking preventive measures and being prepared to handle any injuries that do occur can make a big difference. By following the tips and steps outlined in this article, you’ll be better equipped to protect your remote employees and provide them with the support they need.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or need further assistance with your payroll, HR, and small business management needs. We’re here to help you navigate through your fears and headaches, ensuring a smoother journey for your business.