On February 20th, a Senate committee narrowly approved a bill that would take out part of Florida law that lets employers deny benefits to injured workers who used other people’s Social Security numbers or identification to secure jobs. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved the bill (SB 1568) that would remove a 2003 provision that considered it felony insurance fraud for people to knowingly present false or misleading information about their identities to obtain jobs.
The recently approved Senate bill is considered a glitch bill to clarify existing laws, since another part of workers’ compensation law that defines a worker as “any person who receives remuneration from any employer…whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, and includes…aliens and minors” conflicts with the 2003 felony insurance fraud provision.
Fort Lauderdale Democrat Garry Farmer, a sponsor of SB 1568, stated that the aim of the bill is to “ensure that workers who are injured on the job, who were fulfilling their obligation, injured because of a dangerous workplace condition or something happened on the job, receive the benefits they are owed under the workers’ compensation system statute, regardless of what their immigration status might be.”
Currently, there is no House version of the bill, with under two weeks before the March 9 end of the legislative session.
Every state except for Florida and Wyoming has separated legal status from worker’s compensation. Florida’s bill is one step closer to closing the national workers’ comp rights gap for undocumented employees.