Answers to frequently asked questions about interpreter certification
Q. The injured employee’s first language is not English. Is the employee entitled to the services of an interpreter in connection with a workers’ compensation case?
A. Not necessarily. An injured employee is entitled to the services of a qualified interpreter in specified settings if he or she does not proficiently speak or understand the English language.
Q. What are the workers’ compensation settings in which interpreter services must be provided to an injured employee who does not proficiently speak or understand the English language?
A. Interpreter services must be provided at a deposition, at an appeals board hearing, at a medical-legal examination, and at a medical treatment appointment.
Q. I speak English and another language. Am I a qualified to interpret hearings before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and depositions?
A. No. The ability to speak English and another language, alone, is not sufficient. To be a qualified interpreter you must meet the following criteria:
- Be certified or deemed certified in accordance with Government Code 68566, administered by the California Courts Court Interpreter Program or
- Be certified or deemed certified in accordance with Government Code 11435.30 or 11435.35, administered by the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR).
Q. How do I obtain certification through the California Courts Court Interpreter Program (CIP)?
A. By passing the written and oral examination administered by the CIP’s testing agent.
Q. How do I obtain certification in accordance with Government Code 11435.30 or 11435.35?
A. Although the CalHR no longer administers the administrative hearing or medical examination interpreter certification programs, it continues to maintain the master list of interpreters previously certified through the examination process. In addition, it adds interpreters certified by the CIP’s testing agent to the master list. You can find more information on the CalHR Bilingual Services Program website.
Q. I am an interpreter but I am not certified by CIP or in accordance with Government Code 11435.30 or 11435.35. Can I still interpret at medical treatment appointments if the injured employee cannot proficiently speak or understand the English language?
A. Yes, if you meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate and provide documentation of proficiency in English and the other language;
- Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge in English and the other language of health care terminology and concepts relevant to health care delivery systems
- Documentation of education and training in interpreting ethics, conduct and confidentiality, which may include the standards promulgated by the California Healthcare Interpreters Association or the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare.
- NOTE: Evidence of these criteria may be established by a certificate of completion of a Medical or Healthcare Interpreter Certification Program issued by a California educational or vocational institution. For more information about medical interpreter resources and training programs, including the basic 40-hour program, can be found on the California Healthcare Interpreting Association website.
If you meet these criteria, you are qualified to provide interpreter services in connection with an injured employee’s medical treatment appointment.
Q. I speak a language that is not certified by CIP or under Government Code 11435.30 or 11435.35. Can I provide interpreter services to eligible employees?
A. Yes, you are provisionally certified.
Q. I am not certified by CIP or under Government Code 11435.30 or 11435.35, can I provide interpreter services to an eligible employee?
A. Yes, if the claims administrator consents in advance.