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January 26 2023

Why Workers’ Compensation is Necessary for Police Working Off-Duty

Workers’ Compensation has become so ubiquitous that it’s often assumed to be in place if an injury occurs on the job. This, however, isn’t always the case for officers that are working off-duty or extra-duty jobs.

Workers’ compensation (WC) is a type of insurance used by companies to provide medical coverage and cover legal fees should an on-the-job incident occur. It further provides coverage of lost wages the person needs to take medical leave as a result of the incident. 

While off-duty work might seem more casual and minimal, police work (on and off-duty) can be physically demanding and dangerous at times. Officers particularly need WC for off-duty jobs to help cover lost wages if an injury working off-duty affects their ability to perform on duty work, as well as help with any associated medical fees. 

Isn’t it required to provide workers’ compensation to employees?

Providing WC may be required by law - but requirements vary state by state. While a state (like Texas) might not require businesses to carry a WC policy, it’s often in the best interest of the business. Without it, the business is vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits with possible unlimited damages and attorney’s fees, especially if they also aren’t covered by general liability insurance. 

Don’t officers already have workers’ compensation through their agency?

For on-duty work, officers likely have workers’ compensation through their agency. However, depending on how off-duty is managed by the agency and paid to the officer, this coverage may only apply to on-duty incidents. 

If off-duty payments are made through payroll and officers get paid through their regular paycheck, then workers’ compensation (or any other insurance the agency has in place to protect all its workers - officers or otherwise) should already be in place.

However, most extra-duty is managed outside of the agency payroll system, where officers are working as private contractors for the hiring vendor. In this case, the agency insurance may not cover medical expenses if an incident occurs during an off-duty detail. 

If not from the agency, then wouldn’t the hiring business be required to provide workers’ compensation?

In states that require workers’ compensation or with businesses that provide it when it’s not required, this coverage only applies to W-2 employees. When hiring an officer for onsite security, they are employed as an independent contractor on a 1099. As a result, they do not get workers’ compensation benefits from the vendor if they are injured during an off-duty security detail.

What happens without workers’ compensation?

Without workers’ compensation, an officer will be responsible for his or her own medical expenses should they get injured during an off-duty detail. They also may not receive any benefits for lost wages if an injury renders them unable to perform their on-duty work. Officers will also be responsible for their own legal fees if the incident results in a lawsuit. Both medical bills and legal fees have the potential to be financially crippling for an officer. As a result, it’s extremely important that officers are covered when they’re working off-duty.

What Are the Options?

One option a lot of agencies are taking advantage of is enlisting software to help manage off-duty details. An off-duty management tool not only provides an easy way to schedule, invoice and document off-duty work, some providers include access to insurance.

To learn more about the robust insurance options for off-duty work through RollKall, schedule a time to chat with one of our representatives. 

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