Its that time of the year again…Company Halloween function, Company Picnic, Thanksgiving Luncheons, Holiday Parties. Invitations go out, and most employees feel obligated to attend since it’s the “right thing to do.” Or you volunteer to help prepare for such functions. All too often, someone sets up a table for one of these functions or lifts a cooler full of soda, or even participates in a volleyball game that gets them injured. Is it work related? Will the workers’ comp insurance cover these? It depends.
If it was a mandatory event, then in most circumstances the answer is “Yes.” Example: There is a mandatory company picnic and during a volleyball game you get injured. Although the volleyball game was most likely not mandatory, the attendance to the picnic was. This would be a compensable injury.
For the Halloween Company party, you volunteered to set up the “Bobbing for Apples” booth. While loading up your car at home, you lifted 50 pound bags of Apples and hurt your back. You felt that you were required to participate in the preparation of the party, and you felt the requirement was implied and that even though you had a choice, you felt it would keep up good relations with your boss and to maintain company morale, that you really had no choice. If your participation was entirely voluntary, and the event was NOT mandatory, this would not be work related.
Bottom line, you need to consider these three factors when determining if your injury is work related or not when involved in a Voluntary/Recreational Activity:
1. participation in the activity is expressly or impliedly required by the employer; OR 2. the employer derives some benefit from the activity, other than the health or morale of the injured worker; OR 3. where the injury takes place at the place or immediate vicinity of employment while the injured worker is required to hold himself or herself in readiness for work, and the activity takes places with the employer’s expressed or implied permission. If the injured worker establishes that any one of the above three factors was present at the time of the injury, the injury is compensable.
So enjoy any and all upcoming company festivities, but understand what your rights are if you are hurt during one of these functions. Be safe, but just in case…email or call our offices at 844-402-2992 regarding any questions you may have regarding a work related injury.