Undocumented workers who are victims of work-related accidents must take steps to ensure that they are taken care of and obtain compensation if required. InfoMigrants explains the necessary steps.
Work-related accidents are common in France, particularly in certain sectors. According to the report of the Caisse primaire d'assurance maladie (CPAM) on work-related accidents in 2019, it is the service industries (temporary work, social action, health, cleaning) and the construction sector that have totaled the most accidents.
The building sector also has the highest number of deaths from work accidents: 176 deaths were recorded in 2019, an increase of 64.5% compared to 2018.
When faced with these accidents, undocumented workers can be particularly vulnerable due to their administrative status. Yet, French labor laws recognize their rights.
Here are the steps to take if you have had an accident at work.
Make a statement
You have 24 hours to declare your accident to your employer, "preferably in writing, by registered mail," advises the Groupe d'information et de soutien des immigrés (Gisti). It is then up to your employer to declare it to the CPAM (primary health insurance fund) within 48 hours.
From the moment your employer is informed of your accident, he must give you a "work accident sheet". If he/she does not do so, the form is also available online on the ameli.fr website.
If your employer does not want to declare your accident to the Social Security, you or your relatives can report it. In order for your report to be valid, you must give proof of a hierarchical relationship between you and your employer, and also of the link between your work and your accident.
Social security is bound by professional secrecy and does not have to reveal your administrative situation. However, in the event that a public prosecutor requests information about an undocumented person as part of an investigation, "social welfare workers can invoke the obligation of professional secrecy to refuse to communicate written documents for 'legitimate reasons', reasons that have not yet been defined by case law (code of criminal procedure, art. 60-1, 77-1-1)," Gisti points out.
Associations for undocumented migrants advise assessing the situation on a case-by-case basis, because if there is a risk that their undocumented status is exposed, the injured person may be able to benefit from medical care and eventually even see his or her regularization facilitated. "This is the case if the undocumented employee has a permanent disability rate equal to or greater than 20%," specifies the Gisti.
Get an official medical opinion
You must then go to a doctor or hospital to be examined and obtain a certificate of work stoppage. If your employer has expressed reservations about the nature of your accident, the CPAM can conduct an investigation.
"If your employer does not have any reservations about the professional nature of your accident and if the CPAM does not initiate an investigation, your case will be examined within one month of receiving your accident report and the medical certificate describing the injuries," says the Health Insurance website.
The "accident at work form" allows you to have medical care, without having to pay in advance. The Gisti points out that "the coverage of work-related accidents is not linked to the regularity of the stay and work (absence of work permit and/or undeclared work) of the person concerned".
Once you have completed your course of treatment, if your condition does not improve or even worsens, a doctor must issue a certificate of extension of treatment, of consultation if you still have permanent after-effects, or suffer from a relapse.
"The employer commits an inexcusable mistake when he has exposed his employee to a danger of which he was or should have been aware and that he did not take the necessary measures to preserve him from it", says Assurance maladie, the French health insurance organiztion.
If you are convinced that your employer is responsible for your accident, you can ask the CPAM to find a mediated settlement or bring a case before the court of first instance within two years of the accident. If the injured person is deceased, his or her relatives can take these steps.
It is up to you to prove the inexcusable mistake made by your employer. So it is better to be accompanied by a trade union (for example, CGT, SUD, Solidaires) to take these steps.