·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


What Your Employers are Liable for When You Work from Home

— December 3, 2020

All it takes is proper planning and communication to ensure safety, productivity, and well-being for everyone involved.  

Many workers dreamt of the day that they could work from home. With the arrival of the 2020 pandemic, this wish became a reality for many. A survey conducted by IBM found that 54% of employees would continue to work remotely once the stay-at-home orders are over. What does this new change mean for companies, and how they have to adapt to the new reality.

The lines are blurred on who’s responsible for what, such as utilities, insurance, and reinforcing the home’s work environment. Let’s dive into work-from-home liabilities and find out what obligations fall upon companies and employees. 

Reimbursing Expenses

Moving your workload from the office to your residence may require you to search broadband deals for your postcode, but does that mean your company should pick up the bill? 

At the moment, there’s no federal legal obligation for companies to reimburse employees for the internet, electricity, or other business-related expenses. However, some states made reimbursements necessary for work-related charges or risk class or collective lawsuits.   

Workplace Safety & Security

As you can imagine, working from home poses new risks and threats that we otherwise didn’t have to worry about in the traditional setting. Let’s take a look at common concerns and solutions. 

Worker’s Comp

When an employee is injured at a commercial workplace, they’re entitled to worker’s compensation. What happens when someone is hurt at home during work hours or duties? It’ll depend on the nature of their accident. 

Each state has a different set of workers’ compensation laws, but it’s important to file the insurance forms provided by your employer as soon as the incident occurs. It’s also essential to save and record any evidence that shows how you were hurt and how it’s connected to your employment. 

Even if you’re negligent or not on the clock, you may be eligible if it’s related to your work mission (e.g. tripping over your company’s computer wires during your lunch break). 


Another issue that arises with working from home is security or privacy issues. Supervisors are no longer able to monitor their team as they would at the office, so precaution must be taken to protect sensitive information. 

Companies should ensure that workers are using the correct devices, software, and a safe internet connection or VPN to shield their information (and the business) from cyber attacks.

Laptop with children’s toys; image by Congerdesign, via
Laptop with children’s toys; image by Congerdesign, via

Employee Responsibilities

While no one could have anticipated stay-at-home orders, it’s still up to employees to make home arrangements and create a suitable work environment. Here are some responsibilities and actions workers can take to optimize their space.

Time Management

Productivity isn’t usually the issue; it’s not knowing when to take breaks or get out of work. Many studies report that productivity is higher when working at home, but this may be due to the interruption of the work-life balance. Setting boundaries can mean anything from scheduling breaks or making arrangements for someone to watch the kids. 

Staying Connected

One of the greatest obstacles employees face when working from home is isolation. Without the usual water cooler break, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your coworkers and team leaders. You can combat loneliness by staying in touch through video meetings, messages, or even chatting with friends and family on your breaks.  

Review Homeowner Insurance

General homeowner’s insurance may not meet all your needs the same way a home business owner’s policy would. Check to see if your insurance includes workplace injuries, potential lawsuits, and coverage for business equipment.  

The Bottom Line

The line in liability between companies and employees is as thin as the divide between work and home life. With any business operation, this has pros and cons for both parties. All it takes is proper planning and communication to ensure safety, productivity, and well-being for everyone involved.  

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