Consider This Before Sending Employees to Work at Your House

Those spring cleanup items or home fixes you may have an employee do during downtimes at the store could leave you vulnerable to employer liability risks and workers’ comp claims in the event of an injury.

According to the ‘Special Errand Exception’, an employer may be held liable for injuries due to a negligent act committed by an employee while the employee was engaged in a specific order or request of an employer. This is because the employee is considered to be in the scope of his or her employment from the time they finish the errand until he or she returns or takes a break from the special errand. 

Thinking twice about assigning home-based work projects may make sense, but if your home is a necessary worksite, here are steps you can take to minimize your risk:

Develop and Communicate to Staff Your Off-Site Work Policy

Even if your company has already established an off-site work policy, a specific policy for off-site work conducted at your home, including how employees will be paid, and possibly the requirement of a signature on a release or waiver to limit or remove your liability.

At the very least, employees should be aware of any written stipulations before pursuing workers’ comp claims. 

Safety Programs

Adele L. Abrams, Esq., of the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC, points out in a 2012 Safety Daily Advisor column that assigning work performed at third-party or remote location isn’t a safeguard either. To help limit risks, an off-site safety program should:

  • Provide adequate supervision.
  • Take all measures reasonable for the protection of workers.
  • Inspect the worksite in advance, and advise workers of potential hazards and methods of risk mitigation.
  • Be aware of specific requirements for certain tasks that may have stipulations involving the number of people required to be present.
  • Abide by all regulations that specifically deal with working alone.
  • Evaluate safety and health procedures and document any deficiencies and corrective actions.
  • Plan and practice emergency response procedures. 

 Keep in mind, while these steps may help limit liability exposure, every situation is unique and you may need to consider additional items to make sure everyone is covered at the end of the day.