Play Ball: It’s Time for Company-Sponsored Spring Sports Teams

Topics: Workers' Compensation Small Business Advice

After what seemed like a long winter, spring has finally arrived. The warmer weather and longer days bring the return of outdoor activities, such as America’s favorite pastime, Major League Baseball. As the temperatures increase, everyone looks forward to heading outside to get some exercise in the fresh air. One great way to get active this spring and summer involve joining in on employee-sponsored activities and teams, such as softball, hardball, volleyball, basketball, etc.

According to FosterThomas, an HR solutions company, “in recent years, many employers have placed an increased focus on promoting employee wellness as a means of indirectly reducing healthcare costs.” One way that employers encourage the adoption of healthier lifestyles is by supporting the athletic activities of their employees. Not only do employee-sponsored team events improve overall wellness, they can also impact employee morale, build stronger relationships and promote team building. These are fun events, but employers need to be mindful of possible liability issues if an employee is injured during a company-sponsored activity. For example, playing softball or hardball brings an added risk of getting injured when running the bases, sliding into home or diving for a fly ball.

Workers’ Comp for Company-sponsored Sports Teams

Does an employee getting injured while on an employer-sponsored softball team qualify for workers’ compensation? The types of coverage under workers’ comp laws vary by state. Some states exempt employer-sponsored sports from workers’ compensation, meaning that if an employee gets injured, they might have to prove negligence and employer responsibility in a lawsuit in order to cover their medical costs. However, in most cases, if an accident occurs during a company-sponsored event, employees would be covered under the business’s workers’ compensation insurance. The amount of liability for injuries would depend on the degree of involvement the employer has with the activity.

What Qualifies as an Employer-Sponsored Event?

Employees are involved in a variety of events, from training to team-building to travel, during their tenure at a company. Some of these events are employee-led and organized, while others are specifically sanctioned by the company. The determination type of these events will impact if they will be covered by workers’ compensation. There are many factors, including course and scope laws, that courts or workers’ compensation bureaus will consider when deciding if an activity is employer-sponsored, including:
  • The employer paid for and organized the team or activity
  • The activity took place on the company property or the employer paid for the rental of the field where the team is playing
  • Attendance at the event is considered mandatory
  • The employer supervises the team or event
  • The employer paid for the sports league fees for the sporting teams
  • The employer purchased equipment and uniforms for the team
  • Only employees are permitted to be on the team
  • The company or organization receives an economic or intangible benefit from sponsoring the activity

Small Business Workers’ Compensation Coverage from AmTrust

Sporting activities are fun and a great way for employees to enjoy some friendly competition and let off some steam, but they also can be a cause of liability for small businesses. Having the right small business insurance policies to protect your business and employees is critical for success, and AmTrust Financial is a leader is workers’ compensation for small businesses. Contact us to find out how we can design insurance packages customized to your needs.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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