Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Undocumented Workers Eligible for Iowa WC

The Iowa Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that undocumented workers in the state are eligible to receive Workers Compensation benefits. The high court has ruled that Pascuala Jiminez, a worker for a temp staffing agency known as Staff Management, was eligible for WC benefits in spite of her undocumented status.

This has been a contentious issue in recent years, with a few states deciding to deny such workers benefits under their Workers Comp statutes. Such exclusions, in this author's view, are misguided and mistaken, and can end up rewarding employers who use undocumented workers.

The benefit for employers who use undocumented workers comes in by means of the experience modification factor, which adjusts Workers Compensation insurance premiums based on the past loss history of an employer. If an injured undocumented worker cannot make a Workers Comp claim, the employer will be rewarded with lower insurance costs when compared with competitors who employ documented workers. Thus, the inadvertent consequence of policies that seek to discourage the employment of undocumented workers would be to encourage the hiring of undocumented workers.  Along with, of course, allowing employers to injure or maim workers without having to take care of them, violating the intention of our Workers Compensation laws, along with basic human decency.

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