Hochul signs legislation that ensures language access services for injured workers into law

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law legislation that will ensure employees who are not proficient in English have access to language services in cases involving workers.
Courtesy of the Governor’s office

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law legislation championed by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Jessica Ramos that will ensure employees who are not proficient in English have access to language services in cases involving workers.

The bill directly addresses the language access needs of employees with limited proficiency in English, with a special emphasis on cases involving workers. This bill streamlines the language access standards within the workers’ compensation law.

“It is crucial that the needs of all employees, regardless of their English proficiency, are served, especially those workers who seek assistance and intervention from Workers Compensation Boards,” Rozic said. “By ensuring consistency across agencies, we are providing transparency and easier access to workers’ benefits to the many employees across the state whose first language is not English. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this crucial piece of legislation into law.”

Ramos thanked Hochul for signing the legislation into law.

“Support that the state is able to offer is only valuable if people know about it. Workers’ compensation is an economic stabilizer for families that rely both on the ability to heal and the paychecks that keep them afloat,” Ramos said. “Assembly Member Rozic and I represent some of the most diverse ZIP codes in the entire country, and we know that policy is only as good as its implementation. I’d like to thank the Governor for signing this bill and prioritizing measures that working families in my district rely on.”

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said “language accessibility must always be a top priority for policymakers.”

“We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing A5609/S6069 into law, and to Assembly Member Rozic and Senator Ramos for demonstrating their concern for our most susceptible populations and emphasizing the need for clear, consistent and impactful regulations that address language access. Our immigrant workers, the drivers of our state’s economy, deserve nothing less,” said Yoo.

The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) also applauded Hochul for the legislation into law.

“This new legislation will help ensure Limited English Proficient (LEP) injured workers are provided necessary language access services in order to receive their Workers’ Compensation benefits,” said Vanessa Leung and Anita Gundanna, co-directors of CACF. “Language barriers are a huge obstacle faced by many folks in immigrant communities and can prevent them from accessing essential services. Workers’ compensation is a critical program for the well-being of injured workers and this bill helps ensure that LEP injured workers receive the benefits they are entitled to. Proper language access is necessary to achieve health equity and this bill is an important step towards a more equitable health care system.”

Thomas Yu, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), thanked Rozic and Ramos for sponsoring the legislation.

“This commonsense law will make it easier for immigrant workers with limited English proficiency to access essential benefits when they’re injured on the job,” said Yu. “We are grateful to Assembly Member Rozic and Senator Ramos for standing up in support of some of our most vulnerable community members and to Governor Hochul for signing this legislation.”

This legislation builds upon the success of Senator Ramos and Assemblymember Rozic’s 2022 law that requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to provide translations of specific documents and forms.