What is a Stop-Work Order?
A stop-work order is a legal notice that requires an employer to cease all work immediately until the issue(s) outlined in the order have been resolved. In the event that a stop-work order has been issued on your work site, it is highly recommended to seek the advice of a Tampa construction attorney. Failure to abide by a stop work order could result in significant consequences for a contractor. These consequences can include significant fines and criminal charges among other ramifications.
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation enforces employer compliance by conducting investigations, inspecting business records, and interviewing and questioning employees to determine if the employer is in violation of any of the State mandated requirements. If the inspection reveals that the employer is in violation, the Division may issue a stop work order.
A stop-work order can be issued on a construction site for a number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for the issuance of a stop-work order include attempts to understate, conceal, manipulate, or misrepresent the company payroll; attempts to conceal or misrepresent employee duties; and attempts to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums through making false statements, failing to report injuries, or deducting workers’ compensation premiums from the employee’s income.
Violation of a Stop-Work Order
If a contractor is found to be in violation of a stop-work order, they can face a penalty of $1,000 per day for every day that work is performed that violates the stop-work order. If a contractor falsely classifies a worker as an independent contractor to the Division or it’s respective insurance carrier and that independent contractor is later determined to be an employee of the contractor, the contractor may face a $5,000 penalty per employee.
In addition, the Division may assess a penalty equal to 1.5 times the amount the employer would have paid in workers’ compensation premiums within the proceeding three year period. These penalties can be extensive and very costly.
Until the stop-work order is released, which requires the employer to demonstrate that they are in compliance with all requirements and all penalties to be paid, a stop-work order can have a significant impact on the work flow of a construction project, resulting in hefty delays and increased costs. If you are a contractor, and have been issued a stop-work order, it is imperative to contact a Tampa construction attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable construction attorney will be able to advise you on how to properly deal with a stop-work order and help mitigate penalties that may be assessed.