New Website Helps Workers Enforce Workers' Compensation Law
By Mitch Seaman
California Labor Federation
On Thursday, March 1st, an exciting new website launched to allow California workers access to their employer’s workers compensation coverage status. With this website, any employee can now verify whether or not their employer carries valid workers compensation coverage—information that not only keeps workers safe but helps the public and regulators crack down on the underground economy.
This valuable new tool was created by AB 483 (Buchanan), labor-backed legislation which directed California’s Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) to collect the information and present it publicly through an easily accessible Internet website. Prior to AB 483, workers faced major hurdles assessing whether or not their employer carried workers comp coverage, and when injuries occurred, workers were often unable to identify the insurance carrier—if any—with which to file an injury claim. At the urging of the California Labor Federation and other labor groups, Governor Schwarzenegger finally signed the bill in 2009 after twice vetoing similar legislation.
But the advantages of this website extend even beyond the rights of injured workers. Thanks to AB 483, any worker, employer, regulator, or member of the public may now identify businesses that cheat the system and violate their legal requirement to carry workers compensation insurance. These underground economy employers will now struggle to break the law just as workers once struggled to enforce it. The legislation and website confirm the victories possible when labor advocates and our legislative allies stand together—we deeply appreciate the work of everyone involved and look forward to exploring new ways this tool will now defend California’s workers.
The website can be found at www.caworkcompcoverage.com, and allows users to access workers comp coverage information for any California employer on any date within the last five years. So, if you suffered a workplace injury on March 1, 2011, and want to know if your employer carried valid workers compensation coverage on that day, click on the ‘new search’ box, accept the terms and conditions, and then enter the employer name and date.
To research the current workers compensation status of an employer suspected of operating illegally, enter today’s date, though note that search results may not reflect coverage information changes that have occurred within the last 90 days. Users may also search by Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) or address.
Also, the search engine doesn’t access coverage information for self-insured employers—employers that insure themselves rather than buy workers compensation coverage from a licensed private insurance carrier. A link to another agency is provided for those researching self-insured employers.
Check it out at www.caworkcompcoverage.com.
Mitch Seaman is a Legislative Advocate for the California Labor Federation, representing 2.1 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries.