In 2021, California had over 683,000 reports of on-the-job injuries, according to the Department of Industrial Relations. These workers came from various industries and represented a diverse group of people. Some of them were even immigrants.
One worry non-citizens may have when working in the U.S. is whether they will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits should they get hurt while at work. For those in California, there is good news.
The law is on your side
Under California workers’ compensation laws, every worker can receive benefits. Immigration status plays no role in determinations. Furthermore, employers cannot use your status to intimidate you into not filing a claim.
The employment relationship is key
Workers’ compensation hinges on the employment relationship rather than citizenship. The right to benefits under the system extends to all workers, including temporary, seasonal, part-time and undocumented employees. It also encompasses all types of jobs, including manual labor, office settings, healthcare or any other field. In addition, new employees qualify for workers’ compensation benefits because duration of employment is not a factor.
On the other hand, workers who are not employees but work as independent contractors do not have the right to benefits. This employment category is a special arrangement in which the worker is working for him or herself and not the employer. Therefore, the employer does not have to provide any type of benefits.
The bottom line is that your immigration status has no bearing on your eligibility for workers’ compensation. If you suffer a work injury, make sure to report it to your employer right away.