A Research Brief by the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (UCLA-LOSH) says that “each day, 40,000 individuals seek day labor work at street corners, curbsides, and hiring centers in communities throughout California. The vast majority of these individuals are undocumented male migrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. California accounts for about one-third of the nation’s day labor population
“Day labor is characterized by temporary and informal work arrangements, with payments typically provided in cash. Many day labor assignments are with homeowners or contractors providing services in residential settings. [Other sites are construction or agricultural sites and warehouses.] Studies have indicated that as many as one in five day laborers experience serious work-related injuries each year.”
The researchers conducted 106 interviews: average age was 47, 97% spoke Spanish as their primary language, and three quarters rated their English language abilities as average or poor. Over 60% had more than 5 years of experience as a day laborer.
They reported on 64 day laborers injured during residential work. Only one had all their medical bills paid for by workers’ compensation. Three-quarters lost work time as a result of their injuries. 82% of day laborers were never paid for this lost work time. 10% indicated that their employer paid for some or all lost work time, and only two of 64 respondents said that lost work time was paid by workers’ compensation. These figures conflict with the standard that workers’ compensation is supposed to pay for all medical care and for lost wages of substantially all workers.