If you are a business owner and receive a penalty assessment letter from the Industrial Commission, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. Who is eligible for an alternative penalty request in North Carolina depends on several factors. The North Carolina Industrial Commission is tasked with enforcing penalties for non-compliance with North Carolina General Statute §97-94.
N.C.G.S. §97-94 states that employers who employ three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance for the protection of their employees. When an employer either willfully or negligently fails to comply with the statute, they can be issued a hefty penalty. An employer who is eligible may request an alternative penalty from the North Carolina Industrial Commission. An alternative penalty allows an employer to significantly reduce the penalty depending on several factors.
Who is Eligible For an Alternative Penalty?
Two things must occur for an employer to be eligible to request an alternative penalty from the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The two requirements are stated as follows:
1. The employer has not requested an alternative penalty in the past
The first requirement is that the employer has never requested an alternative penalty before. This would mean that the employer has been penalized once before and has then been penalized for a second time. The policy behind the Industrial Commissions objective here is that you get one chance, and one chance only. Given the seriousness of not having workers’ compensation insurance, you are only allowed one chance to request the penalty reduction. Therefore, the first eligibility requirement is that the employee cannot have requested an alternative penalty prior to the instant penalty assessment.
2. The employer has obtained an active workers’ compensation insurance policy
The second requirement before an employer can request an alternative penalty is they need to obtain an active workers’ compensation insurance policy. If you are a business owner with three or more employees, workers’ comp insurance should be one of the first things you obtain. Workers’ compensation insurance is relatively cheap depending on the number of employees that you have. There are many different carriers that an employer can contact with regards to finding affordable coverage.
Process for Reducing the Penalty Amount
In order to receive an alternative penalty, an employer must first rescind the original penalty amount and then apply for the reduction request. The process for rescinding the amount includes submitting a letter to the Industrial Commission requesting that the original penalty amount be rescinded. Once the original penalty is rescinded, the employer can file a variety of evidence and have the penalty reduced under N.C.G.S. §97-94.
Where do I send the payment after it has been reduced?
Once the new penalty amount has been determined, the employer may mail the penalty payment to:
North Carolina Industrial Commission, Attn: Sharon Hodge, 1240 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1240.
The employer may also pay online at www.ic.nc.gov and clicking on “links” and “Pay Online.”
If you have received a penalty assessment letter from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced North Carolina attorney today. Schehr Law PLLC has handled numerous non-compliance issues and is well equipped to help you reduce your penalty. Give us a call or book an appointment online to speak with a licensed North Carolina attorney.