Should College Athletes Have Workers' Comp Coverage? PEO Experts Offer Perspective on Employer Responsibilities

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SourceOne Partners Offers Expert Insight on the National Labor Relations Act

PEO & Payroll Experts
Every employer needs to know the business’s status under the NLRA.

In March, college football players at Northwestern University successfully petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Chicago to be legally considered employees, and therefore have the right to workers’ compensation insurance (sometimes referred to as workers’ comp insurance) and to unionize. Currently college athletes do not have the right to workers’ comp insurance, though colleges generally pay for players’ medical expenses related to their athletic activities.

The Northwestern players, claiming they spend 40 to 50 hours per week devoted to football, sought the NLRB ruling to assert that they are employees required to effectively work full-time in the service of Northwestern University in exchange for their scholarships. While the ruling will undergo the appeals process, it nonetheless is a significant victory for student athletes who believe they deserve financial compensation and other benefits like workers’ comp for what they contribute to the business of college athletics. The ruling was given by NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr, based on a number of factors he said determines that the scholarship football players are employees.

Though the question itself posed by the players and the ruling by the NLRB are thorny and complicated, and unlikely to be fully decided soon, it does point to issues that relate to small business owners. Every small business owner should learn the basics about employers’ rights and responsibilities under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Jeff Hecht, President of SourceOne Partners, said, “Most private employers fall under the statutory jurisdiction of the NLRA based on threshold interstate commerce levels, and are not eligible for a workers’ comp exemption. Every employer needs to know the business’s status under the NLRA.”

Director Ohr’s decision about the Northwestern football players has prompted discussion not only throughout the world of college athletics, but also in Congress, where hearings in May examined potential consequences of unionizing college athletes. Whether or not the ruling is upheld on appeal, it shines a brighter spotlight on employer responsibilities under the NLRA. “Whatever the ultimate results for college athletes, this ruling has only made it clearer that employers must know their status under the NLRA and act accordingly,” said Hecht. “If they use PEO outsourcing, they have to be confident they’re working with a PEO with the knowledge and experience necessary to abide by the regulations to which employers are subject.”

SourceOne Partners is a company representing PEO brokers that offers customized PEO solutions for each client’s specific needs, including payroll outsourcing and workers’ comp insurance. SourceOne Partners shops both the PEO and traditional market and provides cost-benefit analyses to assist clients in making informed decisions about payroll outsourcing, workers’ compensation, and other employee benefit administration.

About SourceOne Partners

SourceOne Partners is a leading provider of PEO and payroll services in South Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The services SourceOne Partners provides help companies reduce HR costs, minimize employer risk and liability, and relieve the administrative burdens of HR and payroll. Call 561-674-0748 or visit for a free PEO or payroll analysis.

SourceOne Partners Florida
2255 Glades Road
Suite 324
Boca Raton, FL 33431

SourceOne Partners New Jersey
990 Cedarbridge Ave #7
Brick, NJ 08723‎

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Jamie Maloney
+1 (561) 674-0757 Ext: 0
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Jeff Hecht
since: 09/2010
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Sourceone Partners
since: 09/2013
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