Providing work from home options has been a necessity since the pandemic shook up the business world. However, this working model also presents many potential liabilities business owners need to understand.
In some cases these risks may not be covered by your current business insurance and you may also assume more responsibilities. Let’s review how work from home could affect you and your business.
Work Area Considerations
Business owners are responsible for providing employees with safe work environments, even when they’re working from home. Require employees complete a work from home survey to ensure they have the equipment and environment needed to perform their duties safely.
The survey should include photos of their designated work area. Employers should review these and recommend changes where necessary. Employees must acknowledge that they will conduct all business within this area by signing the survey.
Provide a secure data connection and insist employees only perform work on company equipment. Personal devices and Wi-Fi can leave your business vulnerable to cybercrime.
Homeowners, Renters, or Condo Insurance
Ask for a copy of the employee’s homeowners insurance policy information to ensure it is active and includes work from home coverage. Most business policies only protect your place of business unless either you arrange for additional coverage.
Telecommuting Agreement Essential
Employees need to understand what is expected of them when they work from home. Since this is a new scenario for most employees, a telecommuting policy is essential to avoid misunderstandings. It can also protect your business should something occur in a home office situation.
A good telecommuting policy includes work hours, scheduled breaks, equipment and connection requirements, and health and safety guidelines. It should also state that the work from home arrangement is a privilege, not a right, and can be terminated if the employee fails to meet policy requirements.
Also include their right to workers’ compensation insurance, providing the injury arose out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. Employees should sign the policy and employers should retain a copy for their records.
Employees may struggle with the work from home business model, so it is extremely important to contact them regularly. Bi-weekly video calls as well as frequent emails can help them stay connected.
Mental health is a huge issue during the pandemic, so these collaborations should address the person as well as work. Monitor their performance and how well they’re coping. Be prepared to provide additional assistance or bring them back into the office if this is an option.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
Don’t assume your Rhode Island business insurance policies will protect you well if you decide to use a work from home model. Your agent may suggest additional coverage to protect you from potential liabilities.
If you run a home-based business, don’t rely on your general homeowners insurance policy either. You’ll need a business insurance policy to help cover the expenses related to a lawsuit, workplace injury, and loss or damage to business equipment, inventory, and supplies.
Unfortunately, small businesses are targets for lawsuits and work from home increases risk. An employee could unintentionally mishandle sensitive client data, make a libelous comments online, or a work-related injury could take place on your employee’s property. You just can’t predict what could happen, but you can manage risk through proper insurance coverages.
If your employee operates a personal vehicle or business-owned vehicle to conduct business, you’ll need commercial auto insurance, too.
Our team of dedicated are agents are ready to help you navigate these issues. Give us a call, today!