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Seven Things To Know When You Receive A Notice Of Investigation From The Department Of Health

Stop-Work Orders

If you are confronted with a Stop-Work Order it is imperative to immediately contact an attorney experienced in these matters.  The Health Law Firm represents physicians, medical practices, and other health providers who have been issued a Stop-Work Order. The Health Law Firm’s attorneys can assist you in producing the necessary documents and mitigating the penalties that may be assessed.

Often a business obtains faulty legal advice that it can treat its employees as “independent contractors” and avoid a number of mandatory costs associated with hiring an actual employee.  These may include, for example, paying social security, Medicare and other mandatory assessments.  Additionally, the employer may believe that it can avoid expenses, such as workers’ compensation insurance coverage, that are required by law.

The Stop-Work Order is one tool that is used by the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) to halt an employer’s business activities until it comes into compliance with the required insurance coverage mandated by Section 440.10, Florida Statutes.  The issuance of such an Order can be a death sentence to a small business due to the limitations and penalties that it places on a business owner.  To avoid this situation it is critical to understand the requirements of Chapter 440, Florida Statutes, and the penalties an employer can face when it fails to be compliant with Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.

Typically, the DFS will receive a complaint or a tip, often from a former employee, but sometimes from a competitor.  An investigator from the DFS will then begin an investigation, often visiting the business suspected of the infraction.  A detailed records request or subpoena, requesting all financial documents (including bank statements, tax returns, cancelled checks, payrolls, ledgers, books, and other sensitive financial documents), will be served on the business, with only a short time to produce the requested information.

The DFS may issue a Stop-Work Order if egregious violations are found.  The Stop-Work Order closes down the business down immediately. The Order applies not only to the location where the Order was served, but to all other locations where the employer may be out of compliance.  The employer’s failure to abide by this Order can result in a penalty of $1,000 per day for each day that the employer continues to conduct business operations. The issuance of a Stop-Work Order can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in lost income and can force both large and small businesses to close their doors forever.

The Stop-Work Order will not be lifted until your business is in compliance and all penalties are paid.  The DFS will assess a penalty equal to 1.5 times the amount the employer would have paid in premium when applying approved manual rates to the employer’s payroll during the periods for which it failed to secure payment of workers’ compensation.  These penalties can be extensive and costly.

For tips to avoid Stop-Work Orders, fines and penalties assessed by the DFS, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Stop-Work Orders.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at