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Resident Employees Who Are Not On-Call

The general rule is that employees who reside on the employer’s premises are protected by workers’ compensation coverage if they are required to reside on the premises and are on-call twenty-four hours per day or the injury resulted from a risk associated with the employee’s living conditions given the requisite living arrangement. When the employee is not on-call and has specified work hours, though he is required to live on the employer’s premises, gaining workers’ compensation benefits for an injury off the employer’s premises is somewhat difficult. When the resident employee is injured outside his work hours and off the employer’s premises, he must show a strong causal link between the injury and his employment. This causation requirement is magnified and must be found more compelling than the showing required for on-call employees.

Broader workers’ compensation coverage is afforded to those employees who are required to live “on location,” so to speak. Consider the construction worker required to live in a foreign country for a year while working on one of his employer’s projects. Compensation for injuries has been extended to those employees harmed while pursuing recreational activities though they were “off” the employer’s premises. Compensability, however, appears to turn on the employer’s duty to provide the opportunity for recreation when its “on location” employees are in a remote locale or relatively isolated.

Though not required, some employees choose to reside on the employer’s premises. In this situation, an injury arising out of the living arrangement is generally not compensable. The reasoning behind the rule centers on the free-will distinction. When required, such residence becomes an obligation of the employment. When an employee acts on the opportunity to reside on the employer’s premises, it is the employee’s choice of habitation that places him at risk.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.