Workers Compensation at Company Social or Volunteer Events

Many employers require workers to do some volunteer work and volunteer for certain activities that have some association to the employment. It may be strong, volunteering or overtime, or weak, attending a company picnic. What are the implications for safety and workers compensation?

Some of the cases that involve volunteering tend to be an employee working overtime on a project, participating in events, etc. The connection to work is pretty clear. If  the employee volunteers for these activities, the injuries that may arise out of and in the course of those events are work-related and typically accepted and compensable in most jurisdictions. In these instances, the workers (and their families) are still covered and protected. As well as the employer protecting themselves from any suit for work-related injuries that may arise. However if the event is not deemed work-related, the employer might still be faced with liabilities in the event of an injury.

Just because a voluntary event or activity is covered by workers' compensation, does not mean that the employer can forget about health and safety. Occupational health and safety standards would still apply in these situations. 

Employers should consider a few things before asking an employee to do some voluntary wIork:

Are the protections normally provided available to the worker(s)?

Are there special risks or hazards associated with this work that need to be identified?

If the worker is working alone, what provisions are required and in place for his or her protection?

Then there are those company picnics which are to be considered "voluntary events"--softball games, project celebration parties, etc. Are they voluntary or work-related? That all depends on the jurisdiction and the circumstances, injuries that may arise from participation may be compensable.  Each case will be determined on its own merits, but the adjudicators tend to look at the expectations for attendance, where it takes place, how involved the employer is in sponsoring the event and the degree to which the activity or event furthers the objectives of the organization.

Have You Been Injured During a Work-Related Social or Volunteer Event?

If you have been seriously injured during a work-related event, like a company picnic, Christmas party, volunteer event, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. Contact our office today at 202-393-3320 and speak to our experienced Case Assessment Specialist. She can help you get started on your road to legal success, and avoid the top 5 mistakes most people make when they file for workers compensation in Washington, DC.


Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer
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