Talking to Your Employer about Why He Or She Doesn’t Have North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance

September 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The big story this summer, as far as North Carolina workers’ compensation is concerned, has obviously been Charlotte News & Observer’s expose of the Tar Heel State’s employers’ woeful lack of workers’ comp insurance.

A series of News & Observer articles inspired the legislature and Governor Perdue to enact changes to the law to encourage employers to do the right thing… and to punish businesses that fail to comply.

Very interesting stuff.

But how is it potentially relevant/useful for you, if you work in Charlotte, and you want to protect yourself and your family?

It’s a delicate subject. Your employer may not want to discuss whether he or she has workers’ comp coverage, and that creates something of conundrum. If your employer lacks insurance, and you get hurt, you could be in serious trouble. You might even need to jump through many hoops to get appropriately remunerated, if that’s even possible.

On the other hand, you don’t want to “bother” your employer or create a confrontational atmosphere. Here are some tips for how to gingerly approach the subject.

1. Wait for the right time.

Think of this like a negotiation. You want to set the stage. You want to think things through. You want to rehearse it in your mind – or even playact it with your spouse or a friend. Make sure that you get the timing right. You want to ask the question in a way that’s respectful and that also ensures that you’ll get a discrete response. You can check out the book “Getting to Yes” for insights to how to approach negotiation – the section on the “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA) is particularly intriguing and useful.

2. Divorce observations from emotions.

When you talk to your employer, do your best to separate your feelings from observations of the facts on the ground. For instance, instead of saying something along the lines of “I am scared that your lack of coverage is putting me in danger,” say something more along the lines of “I notice that you’ve never told me whether or not you have workers’ comp coverage. After reading this article in the Charlotte News & Observer, I’m worried that you might lack coverage. I’d like some reassurance that you are complying with the law.”

In other words, avoid accusing. Stick to the facts. And try to be empathetic, if possible, to your employer’s position. If your employer lacks the appropriate insurance, odds are that he or she is scared and concerned and may need some understanding from you.

3. If the situation is truly problematic, it may behoove you to get in touch with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

Protect your rights, and come up with a strategy to protect yourself and potentially collect damages, if you’ve already been hurt or injured at work. Talk to the DeMayo Law team today.