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California tree trimmers beware of workers’ compensation fraud

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Workers Rights

California tree trimming companies and landscapers who do tree trimming are feeling a very unpleasant financial pinch in 2022 – all thanks to a new law that basically doubles workers’ compensation rates for companies that are using the state fund. 

That accounts for about 65% of the industry. Numerous small business owners are complaining that the new rule could force them to go under, while many are scrambling to see if they can find new insurers willing to take them on. 

Given the nature of the business and the risk of injuries to workers, that’s not an easy task – and that could lead to worker’s comp fraud on behalf of desperate employers. 

What does that mean for employees?

Essentially, some employers may decide that they simply can’t afford to pay the increased premiums to insure their workers. As a result, they may misclassify employees as independent contractors – or worse. As one company owner stated, “I’m not going to name any names, but I know a number of companies that have people off the books because they have to.” 

For an employee who ends up injured on the job, that could be disastrous. When an employee is paid “under the table” or misclassified as an independent contractor, they don’t have access to the medical care, replacement wages or other benefits that workers’ comp provides. 

When government authorities speak about workers’ compensation fraud, they often hone in on the rare individual who scams the system, but the big problems lie with companies that don’t provide their workers with the protections they need in order to save a buck. 

If you’ve been injured on the job, but your employer misclassified you or kept you off their books to avoid the insurance fees, don’t give up on your workers’ compensation claim. There are legal options available.