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Are Undocumented Workers Eligible for Workers Compensation?

undocumented workers

There are more than 8 million people working illegally in the United States. They pick oranges in Florida, vegetables in Ohio, and strawberries in California. Others make beds in inns in various cities, and they have built new subdivisions in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Phoenix.

For many years, policymakers have been talking about shutting down the influx of undocumented workers. However, many businesses have grown to rely on them. The specific laws surrounding this matter are complicated. Just because a person falls under the ‘undocumented’ category, it doesn’t mean that they’re not eligible for the relevant benefits under Florida State laws. One of these benefits is the right to workers’ comp benefits.

An undocumented worker or employee is a foreign national who works and lives in the United States without legal immigration status. Some of them enter the country without inspection and the right permission from the United States immigration authorities. Others enter the country legally using the right visa. However, the visa eventually expires, and they become undocumented.

Workers’ Compensation Statute

Florida’s statutes on workers’ compensation insurance are very clear on this matter. According to Fla. Stat. 440.02, an employee is an individual who gets remuneration for their work, whether it is lawful or unlawful employment. This also includes a person who is considered a minor or an alien. Florida’s courts have generally decided to hold all employers responsible they moment they decide to hire an undocumented person.

So, what happens in situations where the employer doesn’t report taxes?

With undocumented employees, there’s no social security to report their wages on. The workers’ compensation statute in Florida requires that all employers report salaries or wages for federal income tax purposes to qualify as income for the purpose of benefits. Unless earnings are reported, there’s no listed income, and that means the employee will only get medical care.

Provide Correct Information

Often, undocumented workers are tempted to provide falsified social security numbers if they are injured during the course of their work. This is a horrible decision. Providing a false social security number will lead to denial of your workers’ compensation benefits.

Beware of Unscrupulous Employers

All employers are supposed to confirm the social security number provided by a potential employee is valid and belongs to the person presenting it. However, some businesses look the other way and employ people they already know that they are not documented. They do so to benefit from cheap labor.

Most of these employers decide to report undocumented workers to the authorities whenever there’s an injury at the workplace. For instance, when an undocumented employee is injured in one of the hard labor jobs such as construction, the employer uses this as a chance to turn the worker in. They do so to save more cash by not making the necessary workers’ compensation insurance payments. Also, they want to stay away from trouble for hiring an undocumented person.

In some cases, the injured worker fails to present a workers’ compensation claim. The employer submits it on behalf of the employee, only to be denied by the insurance company. The bad news is that the workers run the risk of being arrested.

Seek Legal Counsel

Workers’ compensation insurance is a complex issue, particularly when an undocumented employee is involved. This is the reason some employers choose to report or threaten to report the worker if he or she chooses to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.

Documented or not, if you suffered injuries while executing your official duties, you need an experienced attorney who can help you file a workers’ compensation claim successfully. Your employer and their insurer are not on your side. Fortunately, a good lawyer can look out for your interests.

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