Is my employer responsible for an injury whilst I am working from home?
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the government’s advice, many of us are now working from home. But who is responsible if you are involved in an accident?
Your employer has a duty to take reasonable care for your safety at work. Though the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 do not apply to domestic premises, your employer would still be expected to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees.
Firstly, your employer must consider whether the type of work you are carrying out is suitable for homeworking. If the work was considered suitable for the home generally, your employer would then be expected to consider whether your specific home was suitable.
Your employer would be expected to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments of the work to be carried out and take measures to reduce any associated risks. You would then be responsible for rectifying any issues in the home which have been identified.
Once your house is deemed suitable, you must ensure that it stays that way. Generally most work that is carried out at home is low-risk, office-type work and your employer in this respect is typically only responsible for the equipment they supply (laptops for example).
In addition to this, there would be a significant duty upon you to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and report any employment-related hazards to your employer. Your employer would be expected to give you the tools to take reasonable care and maintain the appropriate equipment for you to carry out the work. Your employer should also inform you of the company’s health and safety policies and you must then ensure that the policies are applied correctly.
Your employer therefore would generally only be responsible if an accident which occurred whilst working from home was due to their negligence, meaning they had failed to take reasonable care for your safety. In the current circumstances, however, it is likely that the Courts could be sympathetic towards the difficulties faced by employers in keeping businesses running whilst protecting the safety of their employees.