Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at work? Are you covered by workers’ comp if company fun goes amiss?

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone! Maybe your company is celebrating St. Patty’s day with an outing, or maybe you were injured walking to an off-premises social event with coworkers or playing softball at a company function. There are many situations like this that I am asked about frequently when an injury didn’t happen at work, but has some connection to a person’s job.

Unlike company required conferences or training events that mandate workers must be present, things such as company parties, sport related events, picnics, parties or other social occasions are often voluntary for employees and may not be covered under workers’ comp. The NC Workers’ Compensation Act provides coverage only for injuries “arising out of and in the course and scope of employment.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-2(6). The NC Court of Appeals in Chilton v. Bowman Gray Sch. Of Med., 45 N.C. App. 13, 262 S.E.2d 347 (1980), provided a list of several questions to consider when determining whether an injured worker will be covered during an employer’s recreational event:

(1) Did the employer in fact sponsor the event?

(2) To what extent was attendance really voluntary?

(3) Was there some degree of encouragement to attend evidenced by such factors as: (a)   taking a record of attendance; (b) paying for the time spent; (c) requiring the employee to work if he did not attend; or (d) maintaining a known custom of attending?

(4) Did the employer finance the occasion to a substantial extent?

(5) Did the employees regard it as en employment benefits to which they were entitled as of right?

(6) Did the employer benefit from the event, not merely in a vague way through better morale and good will, but through such tangible advantages as having an opportunity to make speeches and awards?

The above questions are just guidelines and are not controlling on the question of whether an injury occurring at a company event will be covered. It is not easy to determine whether you are covered by workers’ compensation in situations like this, so it is best to consult with a knowledgeable attorney.  CALL MAGGIE, and we can provide a free consultation!

Now, back to St. Patrick’s Day specifically, the holiday is a Catholic feast day for the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.  The day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.  The day has evolved into a celebration of Irish heritage and culture in the US with many celebratory events, green rivers, Irish fare, and lots of green beer!  Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day celebration whether it involves a religious celebration or just lots of great food…and don’t forget to wear GREEN!