Update from the NC Industrial Commission
The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently published its 2019 Annual Report. In addition to the statistical overview of fiscal year 2018-2019, (61,776 workers’ compensation claims filed for the fiscal year), the IC also reported that the long-awaited modern case management system is projected to go live by June 2020. The IC realized cost savings by closing the Greenville regional office on June 28, 2019. The commission will continue to serve Eastern North Carolina by holding hearings in the Greenville area, but the Deputy Commissioners assigned to the Greenville office were transferred to the main office in Raleigh.
The General Assembly amended G.S. § 97-94, changing the minimum daily penalty amount for not obtaining proper workers’ compensation insurance. Previously, the minimum daily penalty was $50 per day. Under the new law, an employer is punished one dollar per day for each employee, with a minimum penalty of $20 per day and a maximum penalty of $100 per day. There is also an alternative penalty in those cases involving employers that were not previously penalized. Finally, the penalty shall not apply to a period of non-compliance that occurred more than three years prior to the date the IC first assessed the penalty.
Effective July 18, 2019, the General Assembly amended G.S. § 97-170 to require that a copy of an application for licensure as a self-insurer be filed with the North Carolina Self-Insurance Security Association at the same time the application is filed with the Commissioner of Insurance. Prior to this amendment, a copy of the application was to be filed with the North Carolina Self-Insurance Security Association at least 90 days before the proposed licensing date.
Finally, pursuant to G.S. § 97-78(e), the IC made the following recommendations to the General Assembly for potential amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The IC recommends that the 2 term limit for Deputy Commissioners be removed from G.S. § 97-79 (b) so that the Chair of the Commission has the option of continuing the service of experienced Deputy Commissioners.
In addition, the IC recommends that there be parity and consistency in the way business entities are treated in G.S. § 97-2 (2) in terms of individuals who count as an “employee” regardless of whether the defendant-employer is a sole proprietor, partnership, member of a limited liability company or executive officer of a corporation. Under current law, every executive officer of a corporation is considered an employee of such corporation, but may exclude such executive officer from workers’ compensation coverage. Whereas, any sole proprietor or partner of a business or a member of a limited liability company may elect to be included as an employee under the workers’ compensation coverage of such business if he or she is actively engaged in the operation of the business. The current law leads to confusion occasionally on who is or is not covered under a workers’ compensation policy.