Accidents at work when at home, who is liable?

The coronavirus crisis has seen more and more of us are working from home. This raises the interesting question of what happens if you have an accident at work while at home, what duties do employers have and who would be liable if you have an accident?

What are an employer’s duties?

Employers have a duty to ensure their employees’ health and safety is protected. This applies to whether you are working on a building site, in the office or at home. However, when working from home your employer’s responsibility would be limited due to the lack of control they have over your home.

The level of your employer’s duty would largely depend on the type of work you are carrying out. An employer would have to carry out a risk assessment and consider whether the type of work carried out would be suitable to be carried out at home, such as is there enough space and would there be a risk of an employee tripping over? The employer also has a duty to provide the correct equipment that is in good working order and ensure it is maintained.

What about an employee’s duties?

People working at home should also carry out their own assessment of their home. All employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and must report any employment-related hazards to their employer. Your employer should inform you of their health and safety policies and then it is incumbent on you to ensure those policies are applied correctly.

If you have an accident at work whilst working from home would an employer be liable?

As you have control over your home you would have a large degree of responsibility to look after your own safety. The main thing that employers are responsible in this scenario is to ensure that you have the tools and skills to do the job and that they maintain that equipment.

Consequently, if you were to suffer an accident at home then your employer would probably only be liable if they did not give the proper training or equipment provided was not maintained properly. The employer would only generally be responsible if the accident was due to their negligence meaning that they failed to take reasonable care for your safety.