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Workers' compensation topic of legislative efforts in Oklahoma

A proposed bill in the Oklahoma Legislature would make it more difficult for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors to skirt paying Social Security, unemployment tax or workers' compensation premiums.
BY JENNIFER PALMER jpalmer@opubco.com Published: January 22, 2012
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A proposed bill in the Oklahoma Legislature would make it more difficult for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors to skirt paying Social Security, unemployment tax or workers' compensation premiums.


If passed, House Bill 2258 would require the Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court and Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to share information through a secure database with the intent of detecting employers who intentionally misclassify workers. The bill was written by Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau.

The Labor Department is pursuing additional legislative efforts related to workers' compensation enforcement.

Companies that provide workers' compensation insurance are supposed to notify the state Labor Department when a policy is canceled, but it doesn't always happen, said Ray Andrews, director of the Labor Department's employment standards division.

“What we're trying to do is to try to mandate them to respond,” he said. “We're working on a link with the Workers' Compensation Court, too.”

A simple way to tell if someone is an employee or a subcontractor is whether that person has his or her own business — a separate business entity, he said.

And employees have recourse if they believe an employer has violated the rules.

The Labor Department's “Slime Stoppers” is an anonymous tip line for people to report an employer they believe is violating the workers' compensation coverage requirement. Reports can be made online at www.ok.gov/odol/Slime_Stoppers.html or by calling (888) 269-5353.

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We can get the IRS involved. They have a much bigger hammer than we do and there are much bigger penalties for not filing federal taxes. They can go to jail.”

Barbara Ramsey

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission's director of unemployment insurance

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