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Are Church Volunteers Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?

The case illustrates that workers’ compensation is available only to work-related injuries to employees.

Last Reviewed: July 13, 2021

Background

Most churches utilize volunteers to perform a variety of routine maintenance tasks, including cleaning, snow and ice removal, painting, roof repair, and grass cutting. If a church member is injured while performing such tasks, is the injury compensable under the state's workers’ compensation law? If so, what are the consequences to the church? These are important issues that were addressed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a recent case.

An elderly man (Burt) and his wife began attending a small church. Because contributions were meager, church members performed most church maintenance. The church constitution designated the board of trustees as the persons responsible for "maintenance and protection of church building, grounds, furnishings and equipment." These duties were carried out on a voluntary basis. The single exception to the obligations of the board ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 2007
  • Last Reviewed: July 13, 2021

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