Telecommuters beware: Kitchen accidents not covered by workers comp

Government employees who telecommute may not receive workers-compensation benefits for injuries they acquire while in their homes.

The Labor Department's Office of Workers Compensation appeals board ruled Tuesday that a federal employee injured while working at home cannot file workers-compensation claims if the injury occurred while away from a designated workspace, a DOL spokesman said.

According to the board's ruling, agencies do not have control over the maintenance of a person's home, therefore it cannot be responsible for injuries incurred if a person decides to get something to drink, use the restroom or stretch their legs. Telecommuters may, however, receive compensation if they are injured while performing job functions.

The ruling does not affect employees telecommuting from government agencies or locations. If an employee is injured while using the restroom, walking the halls or performing tasks unrelated to their job at a government site, they will be covered under the Federal Employees Workers Compensation Act (FECA).

A copy of FECA is available at www.dol.gov/allcfr/Title_20.

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