The importance of workers compensation benefits can be seen in the attempt to extend the benefits to college athletes. College athletes all over the country are attempting to change their legal status from student-athletes on scholarship to that of student-employees who should be able to unionize, gain benefits and if injured get workers compensation benefits.
Because of the likelihood that athletes, especially those in high-contact sports will be injured, universities who would be considered the employer are fighting the classification of college athletes as employees.
The attempt to unionize football players at Northwestern University involves the NCAA, student athletes, the National Labor Relations Board, state legislative bodies and federal courts.
Unionization of college athletes has implications for the workers compensation benefits that injured athletes will be entitled to. Additionally, if the players are successful it may pave the way to ensure that injured professional athletes, who often struggle to get workers' compensation benefits, will be able to readily access benefits.
For the majority of people, the workers compensation laws that matter the most are the state ones. Very few individuals are employed by federal agencies and need to be concerned about the Federal Workers Compensation Act.
Extension of workers compensation benefits to student athletes and the amount of anger that the attempt has caused in some sectors, indicates in some sense, how much money is really at stake. Interestingly enough, the players unions for all of the major professional sports have submitted briefs supporting the right of the football players to form a union.
In addition to workers compensation benefits, the players would be able to negotiation medical benefits, salaries and retirement benefits with Northwestern. There are billions of dollars at stake.