It’s summer again. What happens when injuries occur during company-approved or sponsored social or recreational activities?
Each year people are injured while participating in off-working hours social and recreational activities which are either sponsored by or approved by the injured worker’s employer. These activities include softball or basketball games, picnics, beach outings, etc. Most people assume that since the employer sponsored the event any injuries which are sustained while participating in the event are covered by workers’ compensation. This is not true in all cases.
In New Jersey an injury sustained during one of these events is covered by workers’ compensation only if two tests are met. First, the event in question must provide a benefit to the employer over and above employee health and morale. There must be evidence that the event provided an actual benefit to the employer’s business. For example, if an employer sponsors a softball game with a company for the purpose of generating more business with that company, this test is usually met. If however the game is just to give the employees a fun day off to improve morale, the test would not be met and injuries sustained would not be compensable.
The second test is that there needs to be some compulsion on the employee to participate in the event. To use the example above, the employees must be required, so to speak, to participate in the business event. If there is no compulsion on the employees, the event will probably not be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Obviously each situation will be fact sensitive. The Workers’ Compensation attorneys here at Stark & Stark are happy to answer any questions you may have about these issues.
Al Vitarelli is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, specializing in Workers’ Compensation Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Vitarelli.