Volunteers and Workers' Comp Coverage

 

Student volunteers, unpaid students and workers' compensation coverage

A law passed in 2016, expanding eligibility for L&I's medical-only coverage.

What has changed?

Before the 2016 law, L&I offered medical aid coverage to student volunteers only in public K–12 schools. Beginning June 9, 2016, L&I will also offer medical aid only coverage for:

  • Qualified student volunteers in private K–12 schools
  • Qualified student volunteers in private and public institutions of higher education.
  • Unpaid students in school-sponsored, unpaid work-based learning.

What is the difference between a student volunteer and an unpaid student?

  Student volunteer Unpaid student
Enrollment Enrolled in a public or private K–12 school or institution of higher education. Enrolled in a public or private institution of higher education, not in a K–12 school.
Authorization of program Participates as a volunteer under a program authorized by the school. Participates in an unpaid work-based learning program authorized by the school, including school-sponsored cooperative education, clinical experiences and internship programs.
Wages or remuneration Performs duties for employer without wages. Student volunteers in K–12 schools may receive credit toward graduation. May receive maintenance and reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in performing assigned duties (not considered wages). Performs duties for employer without wages. Receives credit toward completing school program, certification or degree. May receive maintenance and reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in performing assigned duties(not considered wages).

What about internships?

Internships mean different things to different people. If you have:

  • Paid interns, you must report them in your business' risk classification. Reimbursement for expenses incurred in performing assigned duties is not considered a wage.
  • Unpaid interns working for credit toward completing a school program, certification or degree in return for services, they may be unpaid students. Each scenario will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Who pays the L&I premium?

State fund employers who have elected coverage for their student volunteers and/or unpaid students pay L&I premiums. Schools do not pay the premium unless the student is volunteering for the school.

Self-insured employers do not pay premiums. However, they agree to pay the costs of a qualifying claim filed by a student volunteer and/or unpaid student.

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