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Not paying workers' comp could be costly to construction employers

TUMWATER— Employers dodging workers’ compensation premiums can expect to face significant new consequences from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Starting today, any construction firm caught with workers, but no current L&I workers’ compensation account, can be served a Stop Work Order (SWO).

A SWO is a legal notice requiring an employer to immediately stop work and remain stopped until the employer comes into compliance with state requirements.

Issuing Stop Work Orders to employers who don’t pay their workers’ comp premiums was a recommendation of the Underground Economy Task Force, and was passed by the 2009 Legislature.

An employer who received a SWO has 10 days to request reconsideration. During reconsideration, an employer may resume work by posting a bond in the amount of $5,000 or $1,000 per worker, whichever is greater.

The SWO may be issued on a specific worksite location, stopping work on that worksite only. The SWO also may be served on an employer, stopping work on all of that employer’s worksites.

Failure to comply with a SWO carries a penalty of $1,000 per day.

“The Stop Work Order gives us a powerful tool to stop employers who are operating illegally,” said Carl Hammersburg, manager of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program. “We are trying to level the playing field for those honest contractors out there who complain about losing bids to shady contractors dodging workers’ comp premiums.”

L&I’s fraud website, www.Fraud.Lni.wa.gov, includes an online form for reporting fraud. Anyone who suspects fraud may also call L&I’s fraud hotline at 1-888-811-5974.

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For media information: Selena Davis, L&I, 360-902-6878.

Broadcast version: Employers dodging workers’ compensation premiums can expect to face significant new consequences from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Beginning today, L&I may issue a Stop Work Order to any construction firm caught with workers, but no current L & I workers’ compensation account. A Stop Work Order is a legal notice requiring an employer to immediately stop work and remain stopped until the employer comes into compliance with the state requirements. Failure to comply with a Stop Work Order brings a penalty of $1,000 per day.

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