workers' comp for volunteersUnfortunately, despite the generous gift of your time and effort, you're not covered by workers’ compensation while performing non-emergency volunteer services for a private company or a non-profit organization, including a church.

In Ohio, employers are required by law to carry workers’ comp for their paid employees, but not for voluntary workers.

There's One Exception

The only exception to this rule is for volunteer emergency services providers who work for a public employer, such as a school, township, or village. This includes volunteer firefighters, police officers, or emergency medical technicians.

Public employers must purchase workers’ comp insurance for any volunteer emergency service providers working for them, and may also elect to buy coverage for volunteers performing non-emergency services or for workers completing community service hours instead of a fine or jail sentence.

If you're injured while volunteering for a public employer, ask about its workers’ comp policy.

However, volunteers who provide emergency services to private employers aren't covered by workers’ comp. Private employers and non-profit organizations may purchase additional coverage for volunteers under their general liability insurance policy, but this isn't a form of workers’ compensation.

Something Else Volunteers Should Think About

Another question I sometimes get is whether you can volunteer work while collecting workers’ comp benefits. The answer to this depends on your medical restrictions.

If you're on temporary total disability or permanent total disability because you're unable to work due to a job-related injury or illness, you shouldn't perform physical labor of any kind—including as a volunteer. Doing so could jeopardize your benefits. Just because you're not paid for the work doesn't mean you're cleared to do it.

Call Me With Questions

If you have questions about workers’ comp coverage in Ohio, please call my office. We're happy to talk to you about your status as a volunteer or to discuss what volunteer work you may be able to do while receiving workers’ comp benefits.


James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio