Worker's Compensation - Worker Classification

Volunteers

Although the statutes do not provide a definition of "volunteer" as it is used in s. 102.07(11) of the Act, the department has consistently ruled that a person who provides services of his or her own free will to or on behalf of an organization or entity, who neither receives nor expects to receive any kind of pay or compensation for his or her services, meets the definition of volunteer intended by the Act.

Volunteers cannot be covered under a worker's compensation policy and cannot collect worker's compensation benefits if they incur an injury or illness during the course of their voluntary service. The Act has no jurisdiction over any other form of relief that may be available to a volunteer.

How a Volunteer Evolves Into an Employee

The primary test in determining when, how and if a volunteer evolves into an employee is "does the worker receive or expect to receive compensation (almost anything of value including discounts, certificates, credits, vouchers or any other type of reimbursement) in exchange for his or her services?" If not, the worker is probably a volunteer. If the answer is yes, he or she is most likely an employee.

The situation gets murky when the volunteer worker is a member of an organization that receives compensation for providing the services of the volunteer worker. A general "rule of thumb" is that if nothing of value changes hands from the recipient of services to the worker (the provider or performer of services) this is probably a volunteer situation. However, if something of value is received, accepted or expected by the worker (the provider or performer of the services) or the organization in exchange for the work performed, an employee-employer relationship may exist. Any claim filed by a worker (the provider or performer of services) injured while performing services under these conditions is determined on a case-by-case basis according to the facts and circumstances at the time of injury.

When a Volunteer Receives Less Than Ten Dollars a Week

Under s. 102.07(11m) of the Act, a volunteer for a non-profit organization that is exempt or eligible for exemption from federal income taxation under the Federal Internal Revenue Code, who receives nominal payments of money or other things of value totaling not more than $10.00 per week, is not considered an employee of the non-profit organization under the Act unless the non-profit organization elects to cover the "nominally paid" volunteer under its policy.

Volunteer Firefighters or Members of Rescue Squads

Under s. 102.07(7) (a) of the Act, a volunteer firefighter or member of a rescue squad is considered an employee and is covered by the Act. If the fire company, fire department or squad does not have a worker's compensation insurance policy, the municipality or county within which the company, department or squad was organized is liable for worker's compensation coverage.

Under s. 102.07(2) of the Act, any peace officer while engaged in the enforcement of peace or in the pursuit and capture of those charged with a crime is considered an employee and covered by the Act.

Volunteer Members of a Nonprofit Organization's Board of Directors

Although the statutes do not provide a definition of "volunteer" as it is used in s. 102.07(11) of the Act, the department has consistently ruled that a volunteer director of a non-profit organization or non-profit association who provides services of his or her own free will to or on behalf of an organization or entity, who neither receives nor expects to receive any kind of pay or compensation for his or her services, meets the definition of volunteer intended by the Act.

Volunteers cannot be covered under a worker's compensation policy and cannot collect worker's compensation benefits if they incur an injury or illness during the course of their voluntary service. The Act has no jurisdiction over any other form of relief that may be available to a volunteer

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