A compliance officer for Abbott Laboratories, headquartered in Chicago, will receive workers’ compensation for injuries he sustained during a basketball competition at an annual company festival.
Abbott argued the injuries resulted from voluntary recreation. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission found Abbott liable, however, under the “personal comfort doctrine,” which extends coverage to employees during personal activities incidental to their jobs, such as smoking or lunch breaks.
The commission relied on three central facts: The picnic was on company grounds; it occurred during an authorized lunch break; and the employee was engaged in activities made available by Abbott.
Advice: Consider everything your employees do either on-site or during normal working hours as potential liabilities, and factor them into your safety and insurance plans.