In 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor reported a total of 6,995 claims made for workers’ compensation in Illinois. Work-related injuries can be physically and emotionally taxing.
Navigating the process of filing a claim can be challenging for non-union workers. Workers’ compensation should provide no-fault financial support and medical care to those injured on the job, but when it comes to making a claim non-union workers often face distinct struggles.
Lack of advocacy
Non-union workers do not have a union representative to advocate for their rights and interests during the workers’ compensation process. This can leave them feeling isolated and uncertain about how to proceed.
Because of not having someone to advocate for them, non-union workers often encounter delays or denials of their workers’ compensation claims. Insurance companies may dispute the validity of the claim, leading to prolonged waiting periods for benefits.
It could also make communication difficult. Clear communication throughout the workers’ compensation process is essential, but non-union workers often report difficulties in obtaining information about their claims, leading to confusion and frustration.
Fear of retaliation
Some non-union workers fear employer retaliation, which is illegal under Illinois law if they file a claim. They worry that reporting an injury could jeopardize their job security or future career opportunities.
Less favorable workers’ compensation benefits are common for non-union workers compared to their unionized counterparts. This can include lower compensation rates and fewer available benefits.
Non-union workers may face hurdles when attempting to return to work after an injury. Employers may be less accommodating in providing modified duty or suitable job positions, hindering the worker’s recovery and reintegration into the workforce.
Understanding of rights
It is not uncommon for workers to not know their rights when they lack union membership. They may also not know where to turn for guidance and support.
While the system should protect injured employees, these individuals may need to be especially vigilant to ensure they receive the support and benefits they deserve.