If I’m paid under the table and hurt on the job, what are my rights?

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If I’m paid under the table and hurt on the job, what are my rights?

I broke my leg paid and was let go with no help.

Asked on February 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Worker’s compensation is an insurance system through which employees injured on the job receive benefits. Most states require employers with a certain number of employees to carry worker’s comp insurance. However, since the cost of an employer’s insurance premiums is in part based on the number of employees it has, the fewer “employees” an employer declares, the lower their premiums. Thus, if a worker is paid "off the books" it helps an employer save money. However, if an injured employee is an undeclared worker, the employer may be charged with fraud and face high fines and criminal penalties. Additionally, paying an employee under-the-table may lead to other problems as well. When an employer does not report wages paid to a worker, the employer does not remit payroll taxes and payroll related fees to the government. This constitutes tax evasion. If caught, the penalties can include revocation of a business license, fines, and possible imprisonment. Accordingly, you should make your former employer aware that you know all of this. You may just find that they will now be cooperative and will agree to help you with your medical bills. They may claim that you can get into trouble as well (and you may if you didn't declare taxes on what you were paid), but their liability is far greater than yours and paying your medical expenses will be a small price to pay compared to what they could otherwise be facing.


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