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Workers’ Comp & Volunteers: Take Steps to Reduce Any Setback to Your Business’ Growth

If your business ever works with volunteers or non-paid interns, is associated with a nonprofit foundation, or as a business owner, you serve on the board of a nonprofit organization, you already know on-the-job injuries of both your workers and volunteers can be a real concern.

Considering the number of staff and volunteers necessary for annual fundraisers, such as golf tournaments, community fun runs or other business-based charity events, accidents will inevitably occur and budget planning for the appropriate workers’ comp coverage is a must.

To prevent any avoidable claims, review your organization’s specific coverage under your workers’ comp plan, including important precautionary measures to be followed. As a board leader of your favorite non-profit, this recommendation holds especially true: the nonprofit industry typically deals with workers’ compensation issues quite frequently.

Each state provides individual guidelines for workers’ comp. Some states, such as Illinois and Colorado, require every company with more than one employee to provide workers’ comp insurance, while other states offer the option for certain organizations, such as churches and other nonprofits, to opt out.

(Florida sets its requirements by industry and number of employees; see the Florida CFO’s website for details. For information regarding other state’s specific workers’ compensations requirements see:

Even if you’re legally allowed to, declining this type of insurance protection is risky, since lawsuits may result if the nonprofit organization doesn’t hold suitable coverage and someone is injured while working or volunteering.

Important facts regarding workers’ compensation:

  • Be sure to classify employees appropriately. Misclassification of employees to avoid paying higher insurance rates may result in penalties, incurring additional costs.
  • Volunteers are not considered actual employees. Even if the nonprofit you’re affiliated with carries workers’ comp, injured volunteers may choose to sue instead of collecting the settlement.
  • Protect yourself while still using volunteers. Offer an accident policy for volunteers or require them to sign a waiver form, though these may still be challenged in court.
  • If gross negligence is displayed by your organization, waiver forms will ultimately be ruled against in a court of law.

Unfortunately, accidents happen. By remaining in close contact with your insurance agent, you can optimize your coverage appropriately and alleviate the possibility of a potentially harmful lawsuit—while keeping your business growth on track.

The proven accountant team at Patrick & Robinson CPAs offers many business profit and consulting services. We’re the real deal: individual income tax, assurance, business planning and financial forecasting. Contact us at or 904-396-5400.

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