Undocumented Workers and Non-Citizens Within the Workers’ Compensation System

Source: CMSA Today

BY MARYANN OTT, RN, BSN, CCM, CPC

Undocumented workers and non-citizens, who do not possess proper documents of the right to work or citizenship in the United States, are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when hurt at work. These non-citizens and Green Card holders can file for workers’ compensation benefits in the United States. Employers who can’t offer injured non-citizen workers modified or permanent work must pay the benefits unless the employee is unable to work due to their immigration status. It is the employer’s burden to prove that an employee is an undocumented worker. The worker can use their 5th Amendment right of the United States Constitution to refuse to testify that they are illegally in this country. The employer is then taxed to provide actual evidence to prove the worker does not have the proper documents to be employed in the United States.

On Nov. 6, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA also known as the Simpson–Mazzoli Act). It was passed by the 99th United States Congress. This act changed U.S. immigration law by making it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It additionally established financial and other penalties for companies that employed illegal immigrants. The act also legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country before Jan. 1, 1982.

Workers who do not possess proper documents of citizenship or the right to work in the United States are referred to as undocumented workers (or illegal aliens). These workers still have a right to workers’ compensation benefits if they get hurt at work.

In present times, the United States is having difficulties in securing the Southern borders adjacent to Mexico. The IRCA may need to be addressed again. Illegal immigrants may choose employment anywhere in the United States. It could be viewed as advantageous to helping the economy as well as boosting all states’ employment statuses.

Workers’ compensation was formerly known as workmen’s compensation until the name was changed to make it gender-neutral. In the United States, it is primarily a state-based system. Employers pay for workers’ compensation coverage. Employees don’t contribute to the funds. To qualify for workers’ compensation in all states, the injured worker must report their workplace injury or illness to their employer promptly. Some states just require that you give this notice immediately or as soon as practical, but most states give a more specific deadline, usually within 10 to 90 days.

Employers must verify that non-citizen workers are authorized to work in the U.S. by completing and maintaining Form I-9. This form verifies the identity and employment eligibility of the worker. Employers can face fines and penalties for failing to complete Form I-9 or for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that all employers must provide, no matter whose fault the injury was. In most cases, employees can get workers’ comp, including part-time, temporary, and immigrant workers. Undocumented workers are eligible for most types of workers’ compensation benefits, including payment of medical bills.

References
Workers’ compensation (United States) – Wikipedia
Rey Abogado, Esq. reyabogado.com/us/can-you-hire-someone-who-is-not-a-u-s-citizen

Maryann Ott, RN, BSN, CCM, CPC, is a retired catastrophic nurse case manager from the state of Ohio, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Maryann has 40+ years of diversified nursing and case management background. She has presented several times at the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) annual and chapter conferences and is a co-editor for articles in CMSA Today. Maryann and a colleague are writing a book on Workers’ Compensation for Case Managers. She serves on the CMSA National Educational Committee and CMSA Today’s Editorial Board. Maryann is the Co-founder and three-term past president of the Cleveland Chapter of CMSA. Currently, she serves as the chapter treasurer and president-elect.

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