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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Extending the boundries of "Work"

Did you know if you are injured at a work function out of the office, you may be compensated. If you are injured coming and going from the work function, you may be compensated. "Injured at work" has a much broader meaning than just within the four walls of the office.

Under the law there is the Subjective/Objective test which relates to work injuries that occur out of the office. The test reads like this: Did the injured worker SUBJECTIVELY believe they were obligated to attend the event? AND Was this belief OBJECTIVELY reasonable to an outside observer?

In regular person speak this can be explained as follows. This is a two part test where both parts must be met. The first part relates to the belief of the injured worker. Did the injured worker believe they had to attend the work function. Imagine an office holiday party held at an restaurant. If a person is injured at the office holiday party are they entitled to compensation? The first question is whether the injured person believes they were obligated to attend. How is this proven? Simple the injured worker need only testify under oath, "I believe I was obligated to attend the office holiday party."

Now comes the second part of the test. Would an outside observer consider the beliefs of the employee reasonable. This is proven by showing that the surrounding circumstances proves the employees belief that they were expected to attend the work event. Surrounding circumstances in our office holiday party example may include: Did the supervisors "require" attendance, was business going to be conducted at the party, would clients be in attendance, did the whole office go or only some people, was the invitation sent via company email or personal email, was the party paid for with company funds, how many supervisors/managers attended. All of these facts would go the outside observer(the judge) determining whether the employee was reasonable in thinking that they were obligated to attend the event.

If both parts of the test are proven, then the injury at the office holiday part is compensable. As I previously discussed, depending on the facts of the injury the injured person may also have a right for a second lawsuit against the third party responsible.

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