Does Workers' Compensation Cover Food Poisoning From The Company Holiday Party?

According to a Bloomberg BNA survey, eight in 10 companies hosted holiday parties in 2015. These events encourage employee bonding and are fun. What happens, though, if you contract food poisoning from food served at the party?

If the party falls within the course of your employment, you may be able to file a Workers’ Compensation claim that covers your medical treatment and the time you take off work to recover. Answer several questions to determine if Workers’ Compensation covers food poisoning from the company holiday party.

Did your employer sponsor the party?

You can only file a Workers’ Compensation claim if your employer sponsors the party. Even if the party’s held in your company's building, you cannot typically file a claim if a client or other entity sponsors the event.

Is your attendance mandatory?

The party is considered an official work event if one of the following conditions apply.

  • You are paid to attend.
  • Your attendance is recorded.
  • You must perform your regular work duties if you don't attend the party.
  • It’s a common custom for every employee to attend the party.
Is the party considered a benefit of your employment?

Your company may offer numerous employee benefits, including vacation and sick leave, health insurance or tuition assistance. The holiday party may also be considered a company benefit. If so, you can file a Workers’ Compensation claim if you become ill because of food served at the party.

Did your employer benefit from the party?

Holiday parties can raise employee morale and create goodwill toward the employer, but these benefits are intangible. The party must give your employer tangible, quantified and measurable rewards to qualify as a work event. These tangible rewards include the opportunity to earn an award or make a speech that gains clients or income for the company.

Did your employer finance the party?

To qualify as a true work event, your employer must pay for or substantially contribute money toward the party.

Did your employer supply the food?

The food served at your holiday party may be prepared elsewhere and delivered to your building, or you may eat food prepared and served at a restaurant, hotel or other location. If your employer supplied the food and you did not have to pay for it yourself, you could file a Workers’ Compensation claim for any food poisoning you contract.

After you answer these six questions, you will know if  Workers’ Compensation covers food poisoning from the company holiday party. Talk to your Human Resources manager if you’re still uncertain or need to file a claim.
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