Workers’ Compensation For Recreational And Social Activities
Employers throughout the Tampa area often arrange social or recreational activities outside normal working hours. Employees are often invited or required to attend events like holiday parties, picnics, retreats, kickball games, and similar activities. If an employee gets hurt at a work-related recreational event or social activity, can that employee seek workers’ compensation benefits? The answer to that question will depend upon a couple of different factors. In some circumstances, an injury at an event like this might be compensable, but in other situations, the injury is not compensable. Consider some of the following information from our Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys.
Florida Law on Recreational and Social Activities
According to the Florida Statutes, “recreational or social activities are not compensable unless such recreational or social activities are an expressly required incident or employment and produce a substantial direct benefit to the employer beyond improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life.”
To break that down, Florida law begins from the position that employee injuries at recreational events and social activities are not compensable. However, Florida law says that there are exceptions in which these injuries could be compensable, but both of the following must be true:
- Event or activity was a required part of the employee’s job, meaning that the employer required the employee to attend; and
- Event or activity produced a “substantial direct benefit” to the employer that went beyond improving employee health or morale.
Applying Florida Workers’ Compensation Law
In what types of situations might the exception apply, such that an employee can obtain workers’ compensation benefits for an injury at a workplace recreational event or social activity? The first prong of the exception is relatively straightforward: was the employee required to attend the event? If an employer makes an activity or event optional, it will not usually be compensable. At the same time, it is important to know that an event that the employer says is optional, but in fact required of the employee, may still be compensable. For example, if an employer says a work dinner is occurring on a weekend and the employee can decide whether or not to attend, but attendance will be taken into account when evaluating the employee’s performance, then the event is not truly optional.
The second prong can be a bit more complicated. What kinds of events produce a “substantial direct benefit” to the employer beyond improving employee health or morale? For example, a required team kickball game for employees would not likely produce a substantial direct benefit. However, a holiday party designed to convince a potential new client to work with the company could produce a “substantial direct benefit” to the employer.
Contact a Tampa Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured at a workplace recreational event or social activity, you should have one of the experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys at the Franco Law Firm evaluate your case. We can determine if your injury may be compensable as an exception to the rule. Do not hesitate to get in touch.