are interns eligible for workers comp

Are Interns Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

Are Interns Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

 Let’s start with an easy answer. If an intern is paid and works on a regular schedule for a period of time, that person should be covered by the PA Worker’s Comp Act if he/she is injured in the course and scope of their internship.  However, not ALL interns will be covered for a work injury in Pennsylvania.

There is no specific inclusion or exclusion for interns. The answer depends primarily on two important factors: (1) whether the internship is a paid position, and (2) whether the internship is considered “casual” as defined by the PA Workers’ Compensation Act.  Regarding the first factor, the PA Workers’ Comp Act provides coverage for people who perform services for “valuable consideration.”  Essentially that means that to be considered an employee who is entitled to benefits for a work-related injury, the worker must be paid.  Therefore, interns who are voluntary and unpaid may be excluded from worker’s comp coverage if they are injured at work during an unpaid internship. However, even if an intern is paid, they may still be excluded from worker’s comp coverage in Pennsylvania if their services for an employer are considered “casual.” That is, employment may be “casual” if an intern has no set schedule and only provides some services on an occasional, irregular or incidental basis with no fixed duration.

The Courts in Pennsylvania normally interpret such exclusions in favor of the injured worker by often citing the “humanitarian purposes” of the PA Workers’ Comp Act.  For example, in one case where a carpenter’s intern/apprentice worked very irregularly over a summer when helping with a renovation project. The Courts still awarded workers’ comp benefits because the project was planned in advance.  Yet, on the other hand, a person was denied benefits when hired to work by the day for one specific project of limited duration.  These examples reveal that, for interns, the legal analysis of whether an injury “on the job” is covered by the PA Worker’s Comp Act is very fact specific.  If you have any questions about whether your internship should provide workers’ comp coverage, or if you have been denied worker’ comp benefits, we always offer a no-obligation free consultation to learn about your situation and provide an answer or advice.

Updated: October 10, 2017


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