The Employment Development Department (EDD) offers a variety of services to millions of California workers. With different programs such as Job Services, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, and Paid Family Leave, Californians have somewhat of a safety net to rely on if and when they need help. Some Californians, such as Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW), may not know how to go about receiving information on these services, are unable to obtain and process the correct forms needed for the services, or might be unaware they are offered by the EDD altogether. In an effort to ensure all Californians are given equal access and service to EDD programs and information about services that may help them in their community, the MSFW Outreach Program was established.
They Are Here to Help
Some of you may have seen EDD employees talking with your employers or coworkers while you’re at work, or out talking with people in your community, or you may have spoken with them yourself. We want to emphasize that they are only there to help you, and you should not be alarmed or worried about their presence. These Outreach Workers spend a majority of time in the community and workplaces providing information to farmworkers about services offered by the EDD and other community centers in your area.
Making sure to comply with State laws regarding access, they always receive permission from employers before visiting worksites, and if they intend on visiting your living areas, they need your permission as well. The Outreach worker’s main goal is to help MSFWs by providing information, assistance and encouragement.
What Does an Outreach Worker Do?
Each outreach worker has a designated area in California assigned to them where they visit different agricultural worksites, schools, community events, community centers and many more places where they may find MSFWs who could benefit from their services. Their time is spent communicating with employers, workers and job seekers educating them about EDD services and programs in a language everyone involved can understand. They sometimes come from MSFW backgrounds, so often they are able to relate to your individual needs. When they are out in the community or at different worksites, outreach workers will bring with them plenty of information, including the services available from local One Stop Career Centers: employment opportunities (agricultural and non-agricultural), job training, supportive services, as well as counseling and the availability of education and job testing in your area. Along with the above information, they will have a summary of your rights as a farmworker and information on other organizations in your area that serve MSFWs.
The outreach worker assigned to your community or workplace will encourage those of you who are looking for year round employment or higher wage jobs to visit your local One Stop Career Center. If your seasonal position will be ending soon, the outreach worker will have information about employment opportunities which will become available when your current employment ends. If you are unable to get to a One Stop Career Center on your own, the outreach worker helping you can refer you to a public transportation service to get you there. In many cases they can also help with any applications or paperwork you need completed, especially those from the EDD.
Outreach workers are not only concerned with providing employment information and opportunities. They also want you and your family to have access to supportive services in your area. There are many programs outside of what the EDD offers that can help improve the lives of your family, including ESL classes, low-cost energy programs for your home, food assistance, low to no cost health care, among others. Outreach workers are able to refer you to these programs and services you may be eligible for. If needed, assistance in making appointments for the services and finding public transportation in your area can also be arranged by the outreach worker.
While on a worksite, the outreach workers will check safety and sanitation to make sure work and living places meet State law requirements. If they do not meet standards, the outreach worker will note possible violations and educate your employer about what should be put into place to ensure a healthy and clean workplace. They will also ask for feedback from you about your jobsite. Remember, they are only there to help and anything you say will be kept confidential.
If you are having a problem with your employer (wage, sanitation, hours etc.), or any service problems you may have had with the EDD, you can tell an outreach worker who will have the paperwork on hand to file a formal complaint, or you can go into an EDD office to file a complaint as well. You do not have to be a MSFW to file a complaint.
I spoke with an outreach worker at my worksite, how can I get further help and information?
If you have met with an Outreach worker and wish to follow up on a question, please visit your local EDD office or One Stop Career Center. There are many employees there to help give you guidance and instruction. If you would like to see the same outreach worker you met at work, you can make an appointment with them for a future date.
What EDD programs and services can an outreach worker help me access?
Outreach workers can help you access:
Workforce Services: Workforce services include job referral, job search workshops, placement services, and special assistance to individuals who are experiencing difficulty in finding work. Workforce Services will also handle any complaints you may have about employment or your service at the EDD. The EDD works with CalJOBS http://www.caljobs.ca.gov/ and outreach workers will encourage you to register with CalJOBS where employers can easily find qualified workers. If you have questions about CalJOBS you may call 1-800-758- 0398 during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST).
One Stop Career Centers: A part of the Job Services Program, One Stop Career Centers provide many helpful resources for your work search efforts in one convenient place. Established under the Job Services Program, One- Stop Career Centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and similar employment-related services. To find your local One Stop Career Center visit http://www.edd.ca.gov/jobs_and_training/pubs/osfile.pdf or contact the Career One Stop at 1-877-872-5627.
Disability Insurance: If you are out of work due to a non-workrelated injury, illness or pregnancy, State Disability Insurance could help pay part of your lost wages. This program is funded by employee payroll deductions. There are many requirements one must meet in order to receive benefits from Disability Insurance, including being unable to do your regular work for at least eight days, and you must be under the care of a licensed practitioner. To speak with a representative about Disability Insurance call 1-800-480- 3287 (English) or 1-866-658-8846 (Spanish), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.
Paid Family Leave: Part of State Disability, the California Paid Family Leave Act (PFL) allows individuals to take time off from work to care for their families without losing out on wages. The Paid Family Leave Program provides compensation for parents or spouses when they need to miss work due to taking care of a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner or bonding with a new child or the new child of a spouse. For more information about PFL call 1-877-238-4373 (English) or 1-877- 379-3819 (Spanish), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.
Unemployment Insurance: The Unemployment Insurance Program, also known as UI, provides workers who lose their steady income due to lay-offs, cut back hours or seasonal work with weekly unemployment insurance payments. The UI program pays benefits to individuals to help pay for necessities such as food, shelter and clothing. For more information about UI you can call a representative at 1-800-480-3287 (English) or 1-866- 658-8846 (Spanish), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.
If you haven’t had the chance to meet with an outreach worker but would like more information about these services contact the EDD by visiting http://www.edd.ca.gov.
If you live in an area where outreach workers can be found in the community, feel free to walk up to them to talk. Do not be frightened if they approach you. Remember, they are there to help. If they cannot help you, they will refer you to someone who can. They are informed about MSFWs, and the community where they are living and working. Use their information to benefit the wellbeing of your family and yourself.