Injured workers can face a number of obstacles in their quest to return to work, particularly if the residuals of their injury, or in some cases, multiple injuries, have left them with significant physical restrictions. These obstacles are magnified if the worker is a non-English speaker and even more complicated if they are an undocumented worker.
In Washington State, immigration status is not a factor in workers’ compensation coverage
In Washington State, immigration status is not a factor in workers’ compensation coverage – if you are injured while an employee of a Washington company, your injury claim is covered. The Department’s position is that it is not its responsibility to monitor immigration laws but, rather, to provide protection to workers in our state. This is a very progressive stance, one that is rare across the spectrum of state comp systems, but it can complicate the return-to-work phase of an injury claim.
Vocational services for any non-English speaking employee can be time-consuming and expensive, even for a modest retraining goal, as the labor market is particularly limited when one’s ability to read, write and speak in English is limited. In many cases, these skills may be lacking in the worker’s native language, as well, and it is not simply a need to learn English that needs to be addressed. The longer the vocational process, the longer the injured worker remains on time-loss and the greater the retraining cost; all factors that impact the bottom line of the State and self-insured employers. Often, employers scramble to find a light duty job for their employee to get them back to work and avoid the retraining issue.
One of the most frustrating circumstances we encounter occurs when a light duty job offer is made to the injured worker by the employer of injury, with a twist. Continue reading Immigration Status and Return to Work: A Polarizing Issue