Posts Tagged ‘workers compensation insurance’

Is A Choral Group Required To Have Workman’s Compensation?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

By Brian Taylor Goldstein

Dear Law & Disorder:

We have a non-profit choral group. Our of local public television stations has sent us a contract to record and broadcast one of our concerts this December and they have an item that requires us to have workman’s comp on our entire group. We currently only have 3 staff employees (all part-time) and the performers themselves are not employees. As a non-profit, are we required by law to carry workman’s comp on members of our group?  We are wondering if we can sign this agreement if we don’t carry workman’s comp insurance.

First, and foremost, your non-profit status is unrelated to the issue of workers compensation. Non-profits are subject to the all the same laws, statutes, and regulations as all other businesses. Whether or not you are required to carry workers compensation depends on whether your staff and chorus members are considered independent contractors or employees. This requires an analysis of both federal law as well as the laws of your state. However, in this particular case, such an analysis may be irrelevant.

If you were to enter into a contract with the television station in which you are required to have workers compensation, then you would be agreeing to provide workers compensation whether you are legally required to do so or not. That’s really the whole point of a contract: two parties are agreeing to do things for each other they would not normally be required to do. So, regardless of what the law does or does not require, you cannot just sign the television agreement unless you plan to comply with their requirement. Otherwise, if you signed such a contract and then failed to obtain the workers compensation insurance, you would be in breach.

I suspect that, like many institutions, the television station is using form contracts and boilerplate terms that they themselves probably do not understand. Do not always assume that the other party knows more than you do! Before you do anything, I’d call the station and discuss your situation/concerns with them. Perhaps they will waive the requirement. Perhaps they can agree to allow you to purchase a general liability policy to cover your group in lieu of a workers compensation policy.

However, regardless of whether or not you are “required” to have workers compensation either as a matter of law or by a contract, consider the possibility that if a staff member, a chorus member, or a volunteer were to be injured during a performance or in providing some other service for your organization, your organization could be liable. So, I’d strongly recommend that you obtain a general liability policy to cover injuries to any of your performers, staff, or volunteers who provide services to your organization.


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