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TASB Risk Management Fund

Workers' Compensation Considerations for Extracurricular Activities

September 11, 2018 Hiawatha Franks

Extracurricular activities, such as team building activities and volunteer events, often spark unique and interesting questions about workers’ compensation coverage. Here, we offer answers to the most common questions as well as practical tips for supervisors to consider related to workers’ compensation coverage and special events and activities.

How is coverage determined?

Let’s start with the basics; workers’ compensation covers medical treatment, lost wages, and other income-related benefits for work-related injuries. Because every situation is unique, adjusters must look at the specific circumstances of an injury to determine whether or not it will be covered.

When reviewing a case of an injury that an employee sustained during an extracurricular activity, the adjuster will need to determine whether the injury occurred as part of the employee’s work-related duties. For each case, adjusters will try to find out if:

  • The employee’s participation was strictly voluntary,
  • The employee was paid for time or services, and if
  • The activity furthered the interest of the employer.

An injury is generally not covered under workers’ compensation if it results from the employee’s voluntary participation in a social, recreational, or athletic activity that is not part of the employee’s work-related duties. However, an injury that occurs during an extracurricular activity may be covered if the employee’s participation is expected or required. 

Voluntary or work-related duties

Determining whether or not the employee’s activities were work-related or voluntary can become complicated if the nature of the volunteer service is similar to the usual work duties. For example, if a teacher is injured while attending an after school or off-site event that involves student participation, those injuries might be covered by workers’ compensation.

Practical tips

When soliciting volunteers for activities and events, supervisors can take steps to set the appropriate expectations for employees ahead of time. Supervisors should:

  • Be mindful of their language when asking for volunteers:
    For example, if a supervisor tells employees they are all expected to attend an after-school activity and an employee is injured at the activity, the resulting claim is likely to be covered.
  • Be aware that their actions my create unintended liability:
    For example, if a supervisor coordinates a fun team photo sitting on the monkey bar set in the playground and someone is injured while striking a pose, the resulting claim is likely to be covered.
  • Report a claim when in doubt:
    For example, in order to avoid waiving your right to dispute a questionable claim, timely report potential claims to your workers’ compensation claims administrator.

Every claim is carefully evaluated on the merits and unique facts of the unique case. This article is intended to provide general guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We encourage members to always report injuries that might be considered work-related, so we can promptly investigate and assist the injured employee. Learn more about the Workers' Compensation program.

Tagged: coverage, "workplace safety"