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Low-income workers in California could get better coverage

In California, some low-income workers do not have access to workers’ compensation. As such, a new effort is being made to encourage community health centers to institute programs that could allow low-wage workers with no insurance access to medical treatment with workers’ compensation. The California Department of Industrial Relations (IDR) along with the Division of Workers’ Compensation have partnered UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program and Watson Law Center to provide a new publication to inform companies of the services available to low-income workers that have on the job injuries.

Across California, many workers face problems because they are not covered by insurance. There may be as many as 5 million low-wage workers in the state because of a large number of immigrant and farm workers. Almost two-thirds of on-the-job accidents with injuries occur from this group.

The new incentive is designed to educate companies that do not have insurance coverage about the need for workers’ compensation insurance. It is illegal for California companies not to carry workers’ compensation coverage unless special permission to be self-insured has been granted. Companies can provide this coverage to employees to reduce their own liability in these types of cases.

In California, workers’ compensation provides employees with access to medical assistance if they are injured while on the job. This coverage will make medical services available to workers no matter their wages or status. The DIR indicates that any employers without the proper legal coverage of their workers may be prosecuted and could face penalties including fines and imprisonment if found guilty.

Source:, “California eyes health coverage under WC system for low-income workers,” July 11, 2012