IS YOUR EMPLOYER BREAKING THE LAW AT YOUR EXPENSE?

It’s more common than you might think. Here are four common ways that companies may be less than legitimate when it comes to meeting worker’s compensation requirements, how this affects you, and what you can do about it.

1. Coverage

Worker’s compensation insurance covers not only medical expenses for job-related injuries, but also ongoing care costs, missed wages, and—in the worst case—death benefits for an employee’s family. If you work in a company with 4 or more employees, or a construction company with 1 or more, your employer is required by law to carry worker’s compensation coverage.

2. Certificates of Exemption

When you file for exemption, you are choosing to exclude yourself from accessing worker’s compensation benefits. For non-construction industries, exemptions are not intended for employees: only corporate officers should apply.

Employers who don’t want to provide worker’s compensation benefits to their employees may attempt to coerce them into filing for exemption; or worse, send out an application for exemption on their behalf. Both of these actions are illegal—the process of getting a certificate of exemption should be entirely voluntary.

3. Misclassification

This is a big one: According to the National Employment Law Project (or NELP), up to 30% of employers misclassify their employees as “independent contractors” in order to avoid providing worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, protection from discrimination, overtime pay, and other core labor rights. This isn’t just unfair to the worker: it’s also a felony. The title of independent contractor is fairly self-explanatory: you are essentially self-employed, and have entered into an agreement with another business. You aren’t working for them, you are doing a job for them. If that doesn’t sound like you, your company should not be treating you as a 1099 worker. If you’re not sure, the guide above outlines some common differences.

4. Pay Deduction

In Florida and throughout the U.S., the cost of worker’s compensation insurance varies drastically, from around $0.26 per $100 in payroll for low-risk office jobs to upwards of $19.00 per $100 in payroll for higher-risk occupations such as carpentry. It isn’t unheard of for companies to try to deduct worker’s compensation insurance premiums from their employees’ paychecks.

Don’t be fooled, though: that financial responsibility falls on the employer, not the workers. In fact, withholding an employee’s pay in order to cover the cost of worker’s compensation insurance is a felony.