Calling an agency out on a public carpet works wonders sometimes.
We saw it a couple of years ago, when the N.C. Department of Revenue adopted a somewhat less than customer-friendly policy regarding taxpayers who had overapid the state.
Now, we’re seeing a welcome change of attitude in the N.C. Industrial Commission with regard to North Carolina companies that have been negligent about paying for workers’ compensation insurance.
On the heels of an embarrassing series of stories that ran in the (Raleigh) News & Observer, the Industrial Commission has sent a no-nonsense message to the companies it was supposed to be overseeing: Pay for workers’ compensation insurance or face some pretty stiff penalties, including the possibility of jail time.
An investigation found that tens of thousands of companies in North Carolina weren’t paying for workers’ compensation. In some cases, workers lost their jobs after occuption-related injuries and found themselves unable to pay medical bills or make ends meet.
In addition to the personal tragedies suffered by the workers, the state has been, in effect, hit twice.
Unemployed workers don’t generate much tax revenue, and their needs further strain public assistance efforts such as Medicaid and welfare.
The Industrial Commission’s change of policy is welcome news to all of us – but to the 130,000 or more companies that have played by the rules all these years, in particular.
Workers’ compensation insurance comes at a price, of course. But it’s an essential part of workers’ protection if companies in North Carolina want to continue to hire and retain good employees.
We’re glad to see the Industrial Commission put some teeth in the laws it was supposed to have been upholding in the first place.