The question of when you are “officially” at work can be very important to your worker’s compensation case. Unfortunately, the answers to when you are officially at work can vary from case to case.
Here are a few examples.
In Your Company Parking Lot
As of this writing you are protected when you arrive at a parking lot owned by your company. But if you have to travel off-premises to get to your work building then you won’t be covered in-between, thanks to the “coming and going” rule. That is, you’re covered if the employer controls a location you’re standing on but not if they don’t. You’d be looking at a personal injury suit against whomever owned the between-spaces.
New Jersey is considering Senate Bill S771, and A6195, which would state that if an employer provides or designates a parking area for use by an employee, when an employee arrives at the parking lot employment starts, and ends only when the employee leaves the parking area at the end of the work period. We will continue to watch this legislation and report on it should it be signed into law.
On Meal and Rest Breaks
If you are on a legally-mandated rest break then you may be able to get workers compensation while on break. This protection generally does not extend to lunch breaks.
However, if you run an errand for your boss or are working over your lunch then you could be covered.
Working from Home
You can be compensated for injures sustained while you were working from home. You must generally prove that you were on the job at the time and that you were following your employer’s policies.
There are a number of ways to prove you were on the job, such as working within clearly defined work hours, being logged into employer systems, having work-related discussions near the time of the injury via email, project management systems, or Slack, or the production of phone logs.
Of course, it is also vital for the employer to have approved of your home as a work site and for your employer to have known, or to have a reasonable chance of knowing, that you were regularly using your home as a work site. You also cannot expand the work site to your home by using it for work simply because it is convenient for you to do so, especially if you have a regular work site that you report to every day.
Doing Volunteer Work
In some cases doing employer-sponsored volunteer work is covered, in others it isn’t. It depends on who is thought to benefit from the volunteer work. If the work is done to impress clients and to create positive PR for the company, for example, then in general it is covered.
If it’s paid leave or a sponsorship so you can do volunteer work that is important to you, it isn’t usually covered.
Is your employer trying to claim you weren’t on the job?
Claiming that you weren’t “at work” at the time of an injury is one of the most common ways that employers try to get out of paying workers compensation.
If you believe you were legitimately on-the-job when injured, the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone can help. Contact us for a free consultation so we can help you get the compensation you deserve.