By Mark A. Hofmann, Crain News Service
NEW YORK (March 9, 2015) — The growth of the mobile workforce is creating new variations on old exposures for employers.
That's according to participants in a panel discussion of the virtual workplace March 5 at the Business Insurance Risk Management Summit in New York.
In fact, new potential claims are “springing up every day,” said Rosemary Alito, co-practice leader for global labor, employment and workplace safety at K&L Gates L.L.P. in Newark, N.J. To deal with new issues arising from the virtual workplace, employers need to have strong, clearly expressed policies in writing, she said.
For example, she said, there's a chance that employees working from home will abuse alcohol or drugs in the job, and there needs to be a substance-abuse policy in place to address such situations. Or employees might use company time and equipment to post inappropriate material on social media, which would also require a clear policy, she added.
Ms. Alito also addressed the issue of traveling employees using company cars with built-in technology. That leads to safety concerns, which could be addressed by a policy prohibiting the use of some devices while driving.
Another issue raised was that of employees who wish to rent their own office space — including shared office space — to work remotely. Among other things, that means the employer loses control of the employee in terms of workers' compensation issues, said Jeffrey M. Adelson, general counsel and managing partner at Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez in Santa Ana, Calif. The employer would have to conduct an inspection some time if such an arrangement was approved, he said.
“I certainly don't like it from a workers' comp point of view,” Mr. Adelson said.
Emily Cummins, director of tax and risk management at the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Va., moderated the discussion.
This report appeared on the website of Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.