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The wave of COVID-19-related workplace lawsuits is officially underway. The fact is, the world was ill-prepared for the pandemic, and it’s starting to take a toll on even the most committed workers. As companies scramble to patch up numerous oversights of an unplanned shift to long-term remote work, one issue is pressing: What have their employees’ home workstations looked like for the past seven months?
In a traditional office space, there are clear guidelines regarding suitable work equipment. It’s understandable that, back in March, few companies took it upon themselves to ensure their team was telecommuting from a safety-compliant environment. After all, many remained skeptical of remote work, and believed the pandemic would be under control in a matter of weeks; a couple of months, tops. Remote work isn’t new, however, it’s now firmly established as the norm. But many employers are not ready to deal with the legal implications of switching to an all-remote model.
Workplace lawsuits happen all the time. Take Walmart for example, which settled a suit brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act for $65 million in 2018. Their mistake? Not providing proper seating for their employees.
It’s been reported that employers may soon be legally required to provide ergonomic workstations to workers, wherever they may be. In the US, California employment law already requires that “all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats,” and there’s strong legal precedent to back it.
Overlooking workplace safety practices such as proper ergonomics puts not only your team at risk, but your company, as well. Picture your employee crouched over their dining room table. They’re constantly stretching their back, trying to relieve the pain that their chair — which, let’s face it, is more decorative than functional — is causing them. It’s no coincidence that the term “working from home pain” spiked on Google searches in March, and reached an all-time high by mid-September. The health issues that can arise due to sustained time at an unsuitable workstation are numerous and could lead to litigation and worker’s comp.
While working remotely will reduce a company’s operating expenses, it’s impractical (and, frankly, unethical) to pass any of those on to employees. Giving employees the basics so they can work safely and properly from their home is not only what a great working environment should provide, but also a step that can save companies a expensive lawsuit in the future. As we move into the new normal, this is becoming less of an option and more of an obligation.
Providing employees with a proper home office space is one thing you can tackle head-on to prevent a difficult fallout, in the best-case scenario, or a hefty lawsuit, in the worst. The nature of work has changed. Don’t be ill-prepared.
Check out how GroWrk makes it easy for you to equip your remote team with health and safety compliant workstations!