North Carolina Industrial Commission leaders met recently to discuss policy changes geared toward granting the authority more power to penalize scofflaw business that fail to secure legally-mandated workers' compensation insurance.
This has been a major problem in recent years, as the News & Observer reported back in 2012. The publication found tens of thousands of businesses in the state put workers at grave risk by failing to purchase workers' compensation insurance that would cushion the financial blow for injured employees. Unfortunately, the NCIC typically fails to act until someone is actually hurt, doesn't get a paycheck, is stuck with mounting medical bills and finally reports the company. Even then, the newspaper noted, the commission rarely enforces penalties and efforts to reimburse workers for the cost of health care could take years.
All companies with three or more employees are required to buy insurance or formally certify to the state that it can cover the expense of on-the-job worker injuries. However, the commission doesn't actually ask for this information, and instead contracts with a third party to maintain a database. But until very recently, there had not been a formal effort to track down those companies that aren't abiding by the law. Instead, the commission acts when a worker is hurt and asks for intervention. By then, the worker is facing down poverty - foreclosure, bankruptcy and wrecked credit.