According to a report, about 117,000 members of the Ohio workforce suffered an injury or illness in 2017 due to workplace hazards. This level of occupational injury highlights how necessary the state's workers' compensation program is to employees. Workers rely on these benefits to fill the gap when an illness or injury takes them away from their jobs.
Ohio offers many job opportunities to people from other nations. Under the current workers' compensation law, all workers are eligible for injury and illness benefits regardless of their citizenship status in the country. A new proposal may make it illegal for undocumented workers to acquire compensation if they are not willing to declare their status when filing.
Under this amendment, workers who submit false information when filing a claim will not be eligible for benefits. These workers could face prosecution on the grounds of workers' compensation fraud as well. Some people support the amendment, feeling that it will create a more accurate picture of who is accessing workers' compensation.
Others argue against the amendment, feeling that it could lead to exploitation of the state's undocumented workforce. Opponents of the bill also believe it may deter undocumented workers from filing workers' compensation claims.
Another concern about the bill involves the possibility that some unscrupulous employers will hire undocumented workers because of their inability to file an injury claim. This could compromise the workplace safety of all employees in the state.
The Ohio House of Representatives approved the amendment when it recently voted on the state's workers' compensation budget. It remains to be seen just how far the amendment will proceed.
One thing, however, is certain: Workers need legal protection more than ever. An attorney can provide this protection and help injured or ill workers get the benefits they need to speed their recovery.