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Can undocumented workers apply for workers’ comp benefits?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

From farms, factories and construction companies to restaurants, hotels and hospitals, California businesses rely on immigrant workers to do many types of jobs. Often immigrants who are not yet U.S. citizens are willing to take on work that involves a high risk of injury, especially if they are in the country illegally.

These workers often assume that they cannot apply for workers’ compensation. However, in California, injured employees can apply for workers’ comp benefits even if they are not citizens or do not have documentation.

California law protects undocumented workers after an injury

It is against California law for an employer to threaten a worker or retaliate against him or her because of citizen status. It is also illegal to threaten an employee for applying for workers’ compensation after an injury, even if the worker is not legally employed.

Immigrant workers may also be able to receive benefits if they are part-time or temporary employees, or if they receive cash payments.

Several types of benefits are available after a job injury

Workers’ compensation can help undocumented workers pay medical bills after a job injury. In addition to emergency care, surgeries and prescriptions, workers’ comp may cover follow-up treatments needed for recovery and the cost of traveling to and from medical appointments.

Injured workers who need to take time off may also receive payment for lost income, even if their employer paid them in cash.

A job injury can be devastating, but it is especially so for immigrants working to support a family paycheck-to-paycheck. Undocumented employees should know that California labor law is on their side.