Reform proposals to protect workers comp rights of day laborers — Texas

Below is a press release about proposed legislation in Texas. In that state –uniquely — employers can opt out of (elsewhere) mandatory workers comp statutes. This increases the vulnerability of immigrant workers. The law would require employers to cover their day laborers with workers comp.
For day laborers who are illegal immigrants, a guest worker program would probably require that they be employees, rather than independent contractors, and that they be covered by workers comp as well as enjoy all other worker rights.
January 24, 2007
Bill Proposes Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Day Laborers
Recent legislation filed by Rep. Eddie Rodriquez (D-Austin) proposes that day laborers could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from a day laborer employer. This legislation tracks the stated goals of the Texas AFL-CIO and other organized labor groups that are once again pushing for mandatory workers’ compensation coverage during the current legislative session. Texas is the only state where some employers are allowed to opt-out of coverage.
As filed, House Bill 456 calls for day labor employers to be regulated under the authority of the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation. Within the actual language of this bill, one key provision states that a day labor employer “is responsible for providing a day laborer with workers’ compensation benefits to the extent required by other law.” Additionally, if this legislation passes, day labor employers would be required to provide a day laborer formal notice by the end of the laborer’s first workday. This notice would have to be in both Spanish and English and would provide notification to the laborer that workers’ compensation benefits are available in case of an injury. If applicable, this notice would also provide the name and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Also, this bill proposes that all day laborers would be required to comply with any safety and health requirements required by employers under other applicable law. Finally, in its current form, this legislation expressly forbids an employer from charging a day laborer for any safety equipment, specific clothing or other mandatory job-related accessories that may be required by law, industry custom, or by any particular employer.

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