Firms without workers’ compensation coverage nabbed
Aug 14, 2009
This article was published in the Miami Herald on Friday, August 14, 2009
Florida’s new workers’ compensation whistle-blower website has produced hundreds of new complaints of companies not carrying workers’ comp coverage and more than $500,000 in penalties since its launch in June, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said this week.
As a result of 328 online referrals, 36 stop-work orders were issued, resulting in $526,000 in assessed penalties. Of those, 25 referrals for investigation were in Palm Beach County, 17 in Broward County and 31 in Miami-Dade County. Stop-work orders were issued for two employers in Palm Beach County and eight in Miami-Dade.
None of the referrals in Broward have so far resulted in stop-work orders, according to the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Of the penalties, $112,382 were levied against Miami-Dade firms doing business without workers’ compensation coverage. No penalties so far have been assessed against Palm Beach- or Broward-based employers. ”Florida workers who are injured on the job can face devastating medical bills and serious financial hardship if their employers aren’t properly covered, which is why we want to make it as easy as possible for whistle-blowers to report possible violations of workers’ comp rules,” Sink said .
With a half-million dollars already assessed in penalties, ”we can see this new system is working,” she said.
The penalty for not carrying workers’ comp coverage for employees may be $1,000 or a formula based on the premium the employer would have paid, multiplied by 1.5. The penalty can go back three years and may be stiffer for riskier businesses, such as roofing.
The new website is designed to make it easier for workers to check their companies’ coverage and to complain anonymously if their employer does not carry workers’ comp, said Tasha Carter, chief of the bureau of compliance overseeing workers’ comp in Florida.
Go to the Division of Workers’ Compensation website to check an employer’s coverage or make a complaint against an employer: fldfs.com/wc/index.htm.
People complaining online will receive a confirmation number, so even if they complain anonymously, they receive an answer.