There is still time left this summer for events in or outside the workplace including attending parties and participating in softball games. The question is: If someone is injured attending one of these events is he or she covered for purposes of workers' compensation?
Without getting too much into the "legalese," Section 7 of the statute states that injuries sustained while engaged in a recreational or social activity, are not compensable "unless such recreational or social activities are a regular incident of employment and produce a benefit to the employer beyond improvement in employment health and morale."
So, what does that mean? If an employer sponsors a softball game for the purpose of generating more business with another company, injuries sustained are probably compensable. If attendance is compulsory, compensability is a foregone conclusion. The same applies to attending an off-premises party sponsored by the employer. If attendance is voluntary, injuries sustained are not compensable. There is a famous case where a woman was injured in a tug of war contest at an employer-sponsored picnic. Her injuries were deemed compensable since she was not only required to attend, but also encouraged to engage in the contest. The attendees were employees of two different companies that had now merged and the employer wanted to generate camaraderie amongst the employees. The moral of the story is: Don't "strongly encourage" your employees to engage in contests of strength or other Survivor-like antics that might lead to an injury.
By: Jeff Newby