Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Featured Research

Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Among Residential Day Laborers

The day labor workforce serves as an important resource in many metropolitan areas, providing valuable services to homeowners and residential contractors. The variety of tasks day laborers perform in residential settings—construction, renovation, moving, landscaping—contribute to the safety, security, and beautification of residential properties and surrounding communities. Workers themselves often take pride in these contributions.

As with other work environments, residential worksites can pose the potential for serious injury to workers. In some rare instances, dangerous day labor assignments have led to worker deaths. Yet, the information nature of most day labor work means that injuries largely go unreported and remain hidden from official public view.

This research brief summarizes findings from recent efforts by the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (UCLA-LOSH) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) to document the experiences of residential day laborers in California. Interviews with 64 day laborers who were injured while working in residential worksites in the past five years show that:

  1. workers face a wide range of hazards at residential worksites,
  2. the injuries they experience can be serious in nature, and
  3. these injuries often result in substantial costs to workers and their families. 

Many of these workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation when injuries occur, but few injured workers benefit from these resources.

The report includes a discussion of the common barriers day laborers face in accessing workers’ compensation resources, and it consider the impact of proposed legislation in California to streamline workers’ compensation eligibility requirements for this workforce.

Read the full report here.
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Jesús Guzmán (MPP '18) wrote this report through the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health program.