With the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown making working from home the new normal for many of us, Martin White, a Partner in the Personal Injury department at WBW Solicitors in Exmouth, explains how the rules on employers’ duty of care applies to remote workers.
Health and safety laws impose a duty on employers to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers while in the workplace. If they breach this duty and a worker is injured as a result, the employer can be held liable.
A homeworker is owed the same duty of care by employers as any other worker. This means the employer must carry out a suitable risk assessment of the work activities you will need to undertake at home and take any steps necessary to minimise possible risks they identify.
This includes ensuring the home is suitable for the tasks the homeworker will carry out, making sure any equipment supplied is safe and in good working order, and that the employee is provided with the right personal protective equipment if needed. For new or expectant homeworking mothers, the risk assessment must also consider any possible risks to the child. The employer should also inform the homeworker of the company’s health and safety policies.
Most homeworking is of the low-risk, office-type work, but this does not mean that accidents and injuries cannot happen, for example, if equipment is dangerous or inadequate for the tasks required.
It is also important to remember that the employer’s duty covers an employee’s mental health: an issue that is coming increasingly to the fore as homeworkers cope with the strain and loneliness of remote working. If an employee’s mental health deteriorates and the employer has neglected to take all possible steps to prevent this, they are just as liable as they would be if the employee was physically injured.
How a solicitor can help
If you have been injured while working from home and you want to claim compensation, you should seek help from a specialist personal injury lawyer.
They can advise you if you have a valid claim, help you gather the evidence you need to strengthen your case and refer you to a medical expert who will assess how your injury was caused and the effect it has had on your life.
Your solicitor will strive to negotiate an out-of-court settlement for you or guide you through the court process if your case goes that far.
The compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injury and your prognosis, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering;
- loss of earnings;
- care costs;
- additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- out-of-pocket expenses; and
- adaptations required to your home or vehicle.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.