Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Apply to Undocumented Workers in Florida?
Immigration policies are seemingly always in a state of flux, and many workers remain undocumented. The laws surrounding this issue are complex. And, just because someone falls under the heading of undocumented, it doesn’t mean they are not entitled to certain benefits under Florida law. One of these is the right to recover under workers’ compensation benefits.
If you’re employed in the state of Florida and have been told that you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits due to your immigration status, it’s important to reach out to a knowledgeable Orlando workers’ compensation attorney right away.
Workers’ Compensation Statute in Florida
Florida statutes on workers’ compensation are pretty clear on this issue. Fla. Stat. 440.02 states that an employee is someone who receives remuneration for their work, whether it’s lawful or unlawful employment, and that this also includes someone who is an alien or a minor. Courts in the state have generally decided to hold employers responsible when they have made the decision to hire an undocumented worker.
What happens in situations where no taxes are being reported? With undocumented workers, there is no social security to report wages on. Florida’s workers’ compensation statute requires that employers report wages for federal income tax purposes in order to qualify as wages for the purpose of benefits. Without any earnings reported, there are no listed wages and therefore the person will only receive medical care.
Importance of Providing Accurate Information
It’s understandable that if an undocumented person is injured during the course of their employment, they may be tempted to provide a false social security number. This won’t be the sole reason your workers’ compensation benefits will be denied, but providing it to an insurance company could result in a complete and total denial of benefits.
What some employers are doing with undocumented workers is reporting them when there is an injury on the job. Rather than confirm the social security number provided at the time of employment is valid and belongs to this person, they look the other way and hire people they know are likely not legal to work. This is so they can take advantage of cheap labor.
But, when an undocumented worker is subsequently injured in one of these hard labor jobs, like construction, they use this as an opportunity to turn the employee in. They do this to save more money by not paying for workers’ compensation benefits and to avoid getting in trouble themselves for hiring undocumented persons. In some cases, the employee hasn’t even presented a workers’ compensation claim, the employer submitted it on his or her behalf. The insurance company will deny the claim and the employee runs the risk of being arrested.
The legislature is aware of this loophole in the law and is working to rectify it so employers can’t take advantage of undocumented workers.
Contact an Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Documented or not, if you were injured while carrying out your official duties related to your job in Florida, you need an Orlando workers’ compensation attorney who can help you through the process. Your employer and their insurance company are not on your side. You need someone looking out for your interests. Contact the Payer Law today to schedule an initial consultation.