Recreational Activities And Social Events
Exceptions to compensable injuries are recreational activities and social events if the employee’s participation is voluntary. Even if the employer-sponsored the activity, an injury during the recreational activity is generally not considered compensable. The analysis on recreational activities or social events has several parts. There is a five-part test for analyzing the factors and determining when there’s work comp coverage.
The first part of the test is whether the employer benefited from the activity such that the benefit has to be beyond employee morale. For instance, was it a client and a worker activity? And, was compensation for employment at issue? The next questions could be – Did the activity create a special danger? Was the activity an inducement for employment? For example, if you come to this work sponsored picnic, we’ll consider you for a raise. Another question would be – Was the activity considered by the employer at the time of hiring? Sometimes, there are social or recreational activities where there’s a social aspect but the employee is really encouraged to attend for the benefit of the company.
An example if that situation is the following: there’s a company in Colorado that gives back to the community every year in certain ways. It encourages its employees to sign up for various volunteer activities throughout the year without getting paid for their attendance or participation at the volunteer events. There’s no link between the employees getting paid hourly to volunteering at these activities. It’s part of the corporate culture if you work for them.
At one event, the company volunteered its employees in a running race. A woman was working as a volunteer at this race when she fell and broke her leg. That injury was considered compensable because even though she wasn’t on the job, and even though she was at a volunteer event, it was still benefiting the employer because it was a big part of the employer’s corporate culture to give back to the community.
It’s more common now to see employers going “green” or giving back to the community. They have employees volunteer for various environmental activities, such as picking up trash. If that culture exists, and those events benefit the employer’s reputation due to them contributing and giving back to the community, there’s a good argument that an injury which occurs during one of those events is compensable.
An example where an injury might not be covered is when an employee is not required to participate in an employer-sponsored activity. For instance, there was a case where an employee was playing on an employer-sponsored softball team. The employer provided the uniforms which had the company logo. The employer also donated the equipment such as bats and gloves, but company time was not used for playing the game and nobody was required to participate. In that situation, the injury wasn’t covered because even though the recreational activity indirectly kept the employees happy, that was the only benefit to the employer. Participation on the softball team was considered a social or recreational so benefits were denied.
For more information on Recreational Activities & Social Events, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (303) 900-7274 today.
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