Workers' Compensation At Charitable Events In New York: What You Need To Know

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Workers' Compensation At Charitable Events In New York: What You Need To Know

31 January 2016
 Categories: , Articles

New York boasts a buoyant calendar of charitable events, and employees throughout the state often attend and/or volunteer their time at these events. Of course, like any other event, there's a risk your workers could suffer an injury while attending a charity function, but you may not realize that this could cause problems if your employees want to make a workers' compensation claim. Find out if your workers' compensation covers your staff members at charitable events, and learn more about the steps you should take to protect your employees.

Workers' compensation liability limits

Employers across New York must pay for workers' compensation insurance for their workers. Coverage through this type of insurance extends to most for-profit businesses as well as county, municipal and state workers. Some employers can also volunteer to pay for coverage for their employees. For example, religious, educational or charitable non-profit organizations may voluntarily pay for insurance for their workers.

Workers' compensation does NOT cover other types of work. For example, volunteers at non-profit or charitable organizations do not receive this type of insurance. Similarly, if you teach at a religious or charitable institution, the law does not extend workers' compensation insurance coverage to you.

Things become more complex in other situations.

Insurance liability limits for workers

Workers' compensation insurance gives your workers coverage against injury or illness while they are carrying out their normal duties. The coverage extends to journeys to or from work and for other work-related activities, but if a worker suffers an injury outside work, this insurance will not pay for the medical treatment.

Charitable events can stray into unusual territory. Strictly speaking, these events are not part of an employee's working responsibilities, so the insurance coverage would not normally apply. However, if the event takes place during working hours and/or you encourage your workers to take part, workers' compensation coverage may still apply.

Employer-sponsored events

Workers' compensation policies may offer coverage for employees at employer-sponsored events. While workers' compensation policies exclude coverage for voluntary participation in off-duty, recreational, social or athletic activities, charitable events fall under a different definition.

For example, your company may sponsor a charitable baseball match. Workers playing in the match will raise money for charity, but to do so, they have to play baseball. As such, they may incur baseball-related injuries that would seem to fall under the definition of recreational activity.

To protect employees, it is vital that employers clearly define the principles on which workers must base their attendance at the event. Issues to consider and define include:

  • The attendance policy. If your company expects, coerces or even suggests that workers attend, the event should fall under the work-related definition.
  • Sponsorship or subsidization. If your company pays for and arranges the event, your workers' compensation policy should normally apply.
  • Employee outcome. If attendance at the event can, in any way, influence the worker's performance evaluation, the work will fall under the work-related definition.
  • The benefit to your company. If the event substantially benefits your company, workers should expect protection from workers' compensation insurance.

In New York, the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board governs all matters that relate to workers' compensation insurance. Where there is doubt about coverage for a charity event, you should consult the Board to make sure you work within state rules.

Other charitable events

Coverage for other charitable events is often more questionable, especially if an employee attends the event alone, outside working hours. Generally, attendance at these events would not benefit from workers' compensation coverage.

That aside, some of the rigor that would apply for a sponsored event could equally affect the outcome in this sort of event. For example, some employers allow workers to volunteer and carry out charitable work during working hours. In these cases, the criteria above could mean that workers would still benefit from workers' compensation coverage.

Attendance at a charitable event will not always benefit from coverage under workers' compensation insurance. New York employers should work within strict rules and guidelines to make sure their workers understand the extent of workers' compensation coverage while volunteering or attending these events.

For more information, speak with professionals like Tailored Solutions.