Churches need worker’s compensation insurance! The worker’s compensation insurance laws of Georgia REQUIRE that businesses – including churches and non-profits – with three or more regular employees provide worker’s compensation insurance. I can’t explain it but the fact is that I get many phone calls from church business leaders and church trustees asking something like this, “Isn’t it true that our church doesn’t have to carry worker’s compensation insurance?”
If your church has three regular employees – full-time or part-time – in any combination, then your church needs worker’s compensation insurance. This type of insurance provides coverages for injuries or illnesses caused by a job-related event or accident occurring on the church’s property, and any such event or accident that occurs elsewhere while the employee is on church business or church “time”. The clergy who are the church’s leaders are counted in the three employee minimum, along with other employees.
Securing worker’s compensation insurance is the first step in risk managment planning for dealing with employee injuries or accidents. The next step for the church is to create and implement their policy for processing a worker’s compensation claim. The policy must be communicated to all employees. Specifically, the policy and the steps in the process must be posted in an area commonly used by employees.
Since it seems to come as a big surprise to many churches that worker’s compensation insurance is required, I would guess that it is also surprising to learn that failure to provide this coverage is actually a criminal misdemeanor in Georgia. Such a charge is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $10,000.00 in fines. Many churches in Georgia are unincorporated volunteer associations. In the event of this type of criminal charge, the prosecution could be brought against the members of the church trustees. As frightening as this may sound, it is not the problem that worries me the most.
If a church fails to provide and maintain worker’s compensation insurance, and the church secretary (or pastor, or custodian, or cook) sustains a major injury at work, then the congregation will be faced with potentially devastating financial consequences. This is a scenario that could lead to the end of the church’s ministry. As a consultant to many churches, my goal is to advise you in the best ways to keep the ministry going and growing. Worker’s compensation insurance is one very important aspect of thorough church risk managment planning.
Advise your church to secure worker’s compensation insurance. Don’t delay. Churches need worker’s compensation insurance!