Florida’s Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved a bill to eliminate part of a 2003 state law that makes it a felony and denies benefits to injured workers even if they knowingly presented falsified identification for employment, according to a PEO Compass article by Rada Kleyman.
According to the official Florida Senate website, effective Oct. 1, 2018, Florida’s workers’ compensation law will include a provision to immunize any worker from prosecution for pursuing workers’ comp even if the injured employee (whether through the company or a surrogate such as an employment agency) presented false identification or made knowingly untrue statement to gain employment. The worker’s citizenship, residency or employment status may no longer be the basis for denial of benefits
Workers’ comp law defines a worker as “any person who receives remuneration from any employer … whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, and includes, but is not limited to, aliens and minors.”
Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, sponsored the bill (SB 1568) to protect injured workers who fulfilled their portion of the workplace contract but due to an unsafe workplace were not able to access workers’ comp benefits due to their immigration status, age or other factors.
“It was not our intent to alter any immigration laws of the state of Florida or the United States of America with this bill,” Farmer said. “This bill, again, is simply designed to ensure that workers who are injured on the job obtain the benefits they are due.”
Republican Senators Bradley, Grimsley, Broxson and Gainer opposed the legislation, but Flores and Garcia, both Republicans, sided with committee Democrats to pass the bill.
However, no House version exists with only three weeks remaining in the legislative session. According to a Naples Daily News report in 2017, of 163 immigrants charged with felonies for providing false identification after injuries since 2004, 159 were turned in by employers or insurance companies after filing workers’ comp. Between 2013 and 2016, 80 percent of injured immigrants worked for leasing or staffing companies.
According to Rich Templin of Florida’s AFL-CIO, every state other than Florida and Wyoming separates legal status from workers’ comp and urged the committee to act to restore parity for undocumented injured workers.
SB 1866, approved unanimously, allows employers who pay at least $500,000 to purchase “a guaranteed cost workers’ compensation insurance policy” that does not change cost and contains a reinsurance policy. According to Kleyman, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of American opposed the bill.
View Insured Solutions’ Sales FAQs at https://www.insuredsolutions.net/faq/client_faq/FAQ.php. But another part of workers’ compensation law defines a worker as “any person who receives remuneration from any employer … whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, and includes, but is not limited to, aliens and minors.”
|Tamera Shaw is a freelance writer for Insured Solutions based in Louisville, Kentucky. She writes fiction and enjoys amateur photography. She happily shares her life with husband Ron, daughter Cate and sage cat, Sophie, who grudgingly shares her home with the newest member of our family – Nieko, our new kitten.|