Worker Injured in Pre-Employment Screening Not an “Employee” at Time of Injury; PA Workers’ Compensation Benefits Denied

While there is no minimum time a worker must be employed before the worker qualifies for workers’ compensation coverage in Pennsylvania, the worker must actually be “employed” at the time of the injury. This means there must be both an offer and an acceptance of employment, before the work injury takes place.

In Moberg v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Twining Village), a recent decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, a prospective employee was injured while getting a tuberculin test. Since this test must have been passed before an offer of employment could have been made, the Court found that, at the time of the test, the injured worker was not actually an “employee” yet. As such, PA workers’ compensation benefits were denied.

This case does bring up the fact that an employee is immediately covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, as soon as employment begins. We have seen several cases over the years where an employee is hurt on the first day of work. In those cases, there is no doubt the injured worker is entitled to PA workers’ comp benefits. The key, as noted in Moberg, is that the employment relationship must have actually started before the injury takes place.