What to Do If Your Company is Faced with a Stop Work Order
Posted in Legal Alerts on December 1, 2020
There can be many severe consequences for a company facing a stop work order, including project delays, thousands of dollars in fines, accusations of insurance fraud, and even felony charges. If a stop work order has been issued for your business, it is essential that you act quickly and contact a reliable workers’ compensation attorney immediately to help your company get back to work.
Reasons for a Stop Work Order
Construction companies are complex and have many regulations they must follow to keep their operations running safely and smoothly. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation makes sure employers are complying with Florida law by conducting worksite investigations, inspecting business records, and interviewing employees to see if the employer is in violation of any mandated requirements.
Some of the common reasons a stop work order is given include:
- Workplace Hazards: If hazardous substances are discovered on the worksite or unsafe work conditions exist that threaten the safety of workers or bystanders, a stop work order may be given for the entire worksite or for specific areas of the worksite. Unsafe worksites can lead to worker death or injury and have to be secured as soon as possible before work can resume.
- Lack of Worker’s Compensation Coverage: Employers conducting business in Florida are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their workers. If your workers’ compensation insurance policy does not provide the required level of coverage, your company will be required to halt all operations.
- Out-of-State Employer Not Following Regulations: Even an out-of-state company must comply with Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance requirements. If the out-of-state company neglects to get proper coverage while working in Florida, that would violate state law and can lead to the receipt of a stop work order. Companies need to ensure that their subcontractors and any out-of-state employees have proper coverage before starting to work at the jobsite.
- Failure to Comply with Investigators: If a company ignores requests for documents by a government official or does not produce those required documents for an investigator, this can cause a stop work order. There are deadlines for complying with requests for documentation. Consulting a knowledgeable law firm to determine what records need to be produced during an investigation can help prevent a stop work order.
For all of these situations, you will need the services of a workers’ compensation defense attorney in Florida. A stop work order means your operations will cease until the issue is resolved. Fines can be given on top of the work being stopped. Contacting an attorney quickly will help your business get back on track.
What To Do Upon Receipt of a Stop Work Order
After receiving a stop work order, it is critical that action is taken immediately. Do not take the risk of permanently hurting your business by dealing with a stop work order on your own. Hire an attorney who is experienced with them to help you take immediate action to get the order lifted as soon as possible so your company can stay on track and work is not delayed. There will be a document request investigation and potentially a penalty assessment phase during the stop work order and your attorney will be able to guide you through determining what documents will need to be provided to government officials.
Fully Comply During the Investigation Process
There are serious repercussions for companies that willfully violate laws related to a stop work order investigation. There are short deadlines, and it can be an incredibly stressful and confusing process. Do not conceal any forms of payroll, falsify records, make misleading or fraudulent remarks to a government official, or resume work before the order has been lifted. Any of these violations can result in felony criminal charges and heavy fines. You will save time and money by having an attorney lead you through the process.
Penalty Assessment Disputes
The penalty assessment phase will often result in punitive damages awarded against your business that has received a stop work order. These are not “one size fits all” and different companies will receive different penalties based on why the stop work order was issued. Under the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, your business can assess the penalties and can determine if the amount is fair or not. The attorneys at Conroy Simberg can fight to reduce the penalty amount for stop work orders for companies located in and/or doing business in Florida. Our attorneys fully understand the audit and penalty calculation process and can identify and dispute any penalties given in error. We will also take time to understand your business to help identify any potential penalty reductions you may qualify for to ensure the lowest possible penalty, if any at all.
The stop work order cannot be lifted until a company is in full compliance and has paid any penalties assessed. If you have already missed a deadline, an attorney will still be able to help you get your company back to work and can facilitate a payment plan for any penalties assessed against you. We can also help ensure future ongoing compliance for your business needs.