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When Workers' Compensation Covers Your Company's Recreational Event

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

McHenry County Workers' Compensation LawyerIllinois law requires all employers to carry workers' compensation insurance for employees in case they are injured while on the job. However, that liability often does not extend to injuries that happen at company-sponsored recreational events, such as picnics and sports leagues.

A shoulder injury from throwing a softball too hard at the company picnic or a torn ACL while playing for the company basketball team may lead to several doctor visits. Sometimes these events happen during company hours, but that does not mean you will be covered by workers' compensation. Illinois' Workers' Compensation Act and state court decisions say a company's liability is determined by whether the activity is considered voluntary, regardless of whether the employee is being paid while attending the event.

Illinois courts have often ruled against employee compensation for injuries that occur at voluntary events. However, there is a precedent for plaintiffs being awarded compensation. Success relies on a couple of factors:

Is There Punishment For Not Attending The Voluntary Event?

While recreational events are usually voluntary, there are ways employers can pressure employees to participate:

  •  Some events may have business purposes, such as a teamwork exercise for employees or an informal setting to hold business discussions. While employees are not required to attend these events, court decisions have said these events can be considered mandatory because there could be professional repercussions to not attending.
  • In some cases when the event occurs during business hours, the employee may have to choose between attending the event and being paid, or not attending the event and taking a vacation day or not being paid. While employees technically do not have to attend, they are being punished for not attending by having pay withheld, or being forced to use a paid day off.

Is The Activity Part Of Your Assigned Job Duties?

When employers sponsor a recreational event, they sometimes assign employees to run it. An employee may be responsible for running a team, setting up an event venue, or purchasing refreshments on behalf of the company. Employees may take time during their normal work hours to complete these responsibilities, with an understanding from their employers that they will still be paid during this time. When these duties become part of a job, the employee is entitled to compensation if injured while performing them.

Workplace insurers want to complete compensation claims with the lowest payout possible or find a way to not pay at all. If you have been injured while at work, contact our firm to make sure you have a knowledgeable McHenry County workers' compensation lawyer to tell you what your rights are as an employee.



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