Home > Employee Benefits, Property & Casualty > Protecting the health and safety of your employees that volunteer

Protecting the health and safety of your employees that volunteer

habitatWhat exactly is your duty of care for your employees that volunteer for company sponsored activities?

Volunteer activities have a very wide range, from direct service activities such as serving food, performing home repair services to providing transportation, fundraising, tutoring, or coaching a sport.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012. Given the millions of volunteers and the thousands of different roles they play, it is inevitable that on occasion, a volunteer will be injured while serving a nonprofit organization.

Recognizing the vital role volunteers have in the community helps maintain their on the job motivation and enthusiasm. Don’t you think that part of this recognition should include protecting their health and safety?

If your organization doesn’t manage the health and safety of its volunteers, you risk damage to your company’s reputation and you are open to legal action.

What are your options?

Both employees and volunteers are legally entitled to a healthy and safe working environment. However, volunteers in most states do not come under the state’s Worker’s Compensation Law, since many of the qualifying circumstances don’t apply in volunteer situations. Is the volunteer being paid? (giving your volunteers free food or a tee-shirt is not considered payment) Is the injury work related? Usually, the answer to these questions is no. As a result, Workers’ Compensation is not an option.

Keep in mind that lawsuits alleging volunteer injuries are covered under your General Liability policy to the same extent as injuries to clients and members of the general public, but only if volunteers are not excluded as named insured under the terms of your General Liability policy. If your General Liability coverage includes volunteers as insured, then the organization may not be protected from lawsuits by volunteers under the “insured vs. insured” exclusion. Under this type of policy exclusion, the insurance company is not required to defend a legal action or provide indemnity in any suit in which a named insured has filed suit against any other named insured under the same General Liability policy.

Due to the short comings of Workers’ Compensation and the General Liability Policy, it may be more beneficial to consider Participant Accident Insurance. These policies provide accident medical expense benefits, catastrophic cash benefits (in the case of paralysis as an example), AD&D benefits and weekly accident benefits. You protect your company’s reputation and reduce your chance of serious financial consequences while achieving your ‘duty of care’ obligations.

You can provide a valuable coverage by combining multiple benefits into one single cost-effective program.  Learn more about WGA’s expertise in Workers’ Compensation risk management by contacting your WGA Client Executive.


About the Author

David Bardelli is a Senior Vice President and the Casualty Practice Leader for William Gallagher Associates. David has extensive knowledge with casualty risks, including technology healthcare, business services and miscellaneous manufacturing groups of all sizes.

617.646.0257 | DBardelli@wgains.com | Connect with David on LinkedIn
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