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Can an injury working remotely be covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation?

Yes, if it meets the required legal standard. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have been encouraged or required to work remotely. This has required many to “set-up shop” in home offices, kitchens or spare bedrooms. Home spaces are now becoming workspaces.

The legal standard used in Minnesota is whether the injury “arose out of and occurred in the course and scope of employment”. Compensability will largely depend on the facts of each case. Important factors include:

  • Did the injury occur during working hours?
  • Did the injury occur during the performance of a work activity?
  • Did the injury occur in a location the employee was allowed to be?
  • Was the employee performing an activity in furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs?

Even injuries attending to personal needs while at home may still be compensable. For example, an injury sustained while going to use the restroom while working during office hours maybe a work-related injury. Minnesota Supreme Court has held that acts of an employee necessary to life, comfort, or convenience while at work, although personal to him or her and not technically acts of service, or incidental to the service, and injury arising while in the performance of such acts is compensable. Typically, these include lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, smoke breaks or even coffee breaks.

These cases can be complex and it is important apply the correct law and legal standard to the facts. Speaking with an experienced attorney is recommended to better assess whether an injury while working remotely is a compensable injury.