House approves comp coverage for alien workers

The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill that would rewrite immigration requirements for immigrant farmworkers in the United States and require employers to provide workers compensation regardless of state laws.

H.R. 5038, known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, contains provisions related to alien farmworkers, including provisions establishing a certified agricultural worker status and changing a certain temporary worker program. It had 63 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, and passed 260 to 165.

Addressing the workers compensation requirements, the bill states that “if a job opportunity is not covered by or is exempt from the State workers’ compensation law, a registered agricultural employer shall provide, at no cost to the worker, insurance covering injury and dis- ease arising out of, and in the course of, the worker’s employment, which will provide benefits at least equal to those provided under the State workers’ compensation law.”

State laws are mixed on workers compensation requirements for foreign, or undocumented, workers, with at least one state — Wyoming — requiring that a worker be in the United States legally to obtain workers compensation benefits. It remains a hot-button issue in comp circles.

This article was first published by Business Insurance.

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