Workers’ Compensation

Church Law and Tax 1990-03-01 Recent Developments Workers’ Compensation Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Church Law and Tax 1990-03-01 Recent Developments

Workers’ Compensation

A South Carolina state appeals court ruled that a construction company president who donated his labor in constructing a new church was not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits following an injury on the job. The court noted that workers’ compensation benefits are available only to “employees,” and that state law defined the term “employee” as one who works for wages under a written or oral contract of hire. The injured worker in this case “donated his labor in the construction of the church. There is no evidence he was paid wages or had a right to demand payment. There is also no evidence [that he] entered into a tithing agreement with [the church] so that his work could be considered as a credit toward his tithe obligation. We find no evidence of an employment relationship between [him and the church]. He was not hired by [the church] and he was not performing any paid service for [the church].” As a result, the court concluded that the worker “was a volunteer and not an employee” under the state workers’ compensation law. Accordingly, the church, through its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, was not obligated to pay benefits to the injured worker. McCreery v. Covenant Presbyterian Church, 383 S.E.2d 264 (S.C. App. 1989).

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