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Public Employment

Dec. 8, 2021

All states provide some measure of workers' compensation coverage for those individuals employed in the public sector. Most states provide protection generally for all public employees. Others, however, identify specifically those public occupations for which coverage is extended. There are several key occupations for which coverage is often extended. These include sheriffs and police officers, firefighters, teachers, and National Guard personnel.

Workers' compensation coverage for public employment does not extend to those individuals serving the public in an "official" capacity. An "official" holds an elevated position over that of an "employee" and is generally considered to be one who exercises sovereign functions of the government for the public's direct benefit. Additionally, an "official" operates and makes decisions based largely on his own independent judgment as opposed to the employee who operates at the will of the employer with little or no ability to exercise his independent judgment. Other criteria characteristic of an "official" include that his position was formally created by the government pursuant to a law, his duties are prescribed by law, his position required him to take an oath and secure a bond, and his position is limited by a finite term in office.