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New Jersey Workers’ Comp: The Danger of Company Sponsored Events

New Jersey Workers' Comp The Danger of Company Sponsored EventsNew Jersey Workers’ Comp: The Danger of Company Sponsored Events

Earlier this week, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Stephen Whigham, who was injured in a company kickball game, is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits because he was allegedly required to attend the game as part of his job. Whether this was the case or not, it raises an interesting question in regards to New Jersey Workers’ Compensation. Are your clients putting themselves in danger financially by hosting company-sponsored activities such as this?

It’s common to think of certain risks when hosting events, such as food liability if it’s a party, or employee liability if there is some type of altercation, but most company’s don’t consider their New Jersey Workers’ Compensation risks when outside of the workplace, even if their business is hosting an event.

It’s easy to see the benefits of work-sponsored events and recreational activities. This is a way for your client to express to their employees that their company culture is a welcoming one that encourages socialization and fellowship among coworkers. However, it’s important for your clients to ask themselves at what point an injury during a recreational event could give rise to a New Jersey Workers’ Comp claim.

A New Jersey Workers’ Comp claim may be made in the event that “an employee injured or disabled as the result of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment.” One many ethically argue that since employees are not being paid to go to recreational events, this would not apply and the employee would not be able to make a claim. However, as in the example mentioned above in South Carolina, this may not always hold up in court.

What can your client do to reduce their risks and limit the danger of company sponsored events? The first, and most important thing they can do is create a legally binding waiver of New Jersey Workers’ Compensation benefits for recreational or fitness activities. Every employee who is voluntarily participating in the event should be required to sign this waiver before attending.

Legal experts also recommend defining 3 key factors before hosting a company sponsored event. Employees should understand:

  • The extent to which employee attendance is expected or mandatory
  • The benefit received by the employer from the activity which gave rise to the injury
  • The time and place relationship between the risk of injury and the employment

These definitions come from the Louisiana Supreme Court, and it is important for your clients to be clear on how New Jersey Workers’ Comp Laws differ from other states. To learn more about how your state Workers’ Comp laws apply to your client, please contact the Associated Specialty Insurance Agency, Inc. (ASIA) at (866) 679-7457. Insurance agents and brokers with access to competitive markets have the opportunity to leverage an improving economy set to spur the workers compensation industry with an increase in jobs and payroll exposure, all while capitalizing on the ability to secure coverage for their clients in various industries.

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