For many of us in St. Paul, working from home is a new, temporary precaution while Minnesota tries to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Other people have worked out of their homes for years. For them, nothing has changed professionally. And as the months have passed, people used to working in an office, classroom or other group have mostly adjusted to their new “workplace.”
While your physical workspace may have changed, at least for now, most of your legal rights as a worker have not — including your right to workers’ compensation if you get injured.
Gretchen Hall’s MPR interview on work-from-home injuries
Our attorney Gretchen Hall recently gave an interview to Minnesota Public Radio on this subject. As she told MPR, a 2008 court decision established that an employee in Minnesota is entitled to workers’ compensation if they get hurt on the job, even if they were working at home (and even if the injury occurred during a break period). Thus, employers and their workers’ comp insurers cannot deny benefits to an injured worker just because they got hurt while working at home.
Reducing work injuries at home
Gretchen added that one way employers can help reduce injuries among their work-from-home employees is to give them proper office equipment. Many office workers have ergonomic chairs and keyboards, standing desks and other devices that help them avoid the back injuries and repetitive stress injuries common in jobs that force you to sit and type for hours at a time. But when the pandemic reached the Twin Cities, relatively few people had these items in their home offices. So workers could be at greater risk of injury if their companies do not give them the same level of equipment at home as they have at their desk at the office.
Minnesota workers’ compensation laws have not changed
Everyone has had to make adjustments due to the pandemic and the statewide stay-at-home order, which is now being phased out. So it is good to know that the law is still there to protect you if you ever get injured or sick because of your job. A workplace accident or years of harm to your body can force you to stop working for a long time while you recover.
Workers’ compensation can help you make up for your lost income while you are unable to work. Your best chance of getting workers’ comp, especially if your initial claim has already been denied, is to turn to an attorney who practices workers’ compensation law. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer will know the process, answer all your questions, and make sure your case is as strong as possible.