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  • Florida House Votes to Loosen Child Labor Laws a Year After Tougher Immigrant Statute

    February 5, 2024 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A year after Florida enacted a law making it more difficult for employers to hire immigrants illegally, a move that has reportedly exacerbated a labor shortage and has added to property insurance repair costs, the state House passed a bill Thursday to let 16- and 17-year-olds work longer and later hours. Supporters said teenagers and their parents know how to best manage their time and activities and lifting employment restrictions will help them build careers and earn money, especially with the current labor shortage. Opponents said the changes would make it easier for employers to exploit children and longer hours could negatively affect schoolwork. “Nearly 1 million searches have been performed for ‘How can I get a job as a teen.’ They want to work. This bill gets government out of their way to choose a path that’s best for them,” said Republican Rep. Linda Chaney, who sponsored the bill. The bill would remove restrictions prohibiting 16- and 17-year-olds from working more than eight hours when they have classes the next day and from working more than 30 hours a week when school is in session. The House passed it on an 80-35 vote. Read More

  • CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Miami-Dade Workers’ Compensation Fraud Arrest

    January 29, 2024 HOMESTEAD, Fla. Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Angel Santos Tzunun for worker’s compensation fraud for allegedly concealing payroll to avoid paying a higher worker’s compensation premium. Fraud detectives determined that Tzunun concealed more than $2 million in labor costs from contractors and avoided more than $100,000 in workers’ compensation premiums on two separate insurance policies. CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “As your CFO, I’ve made it my mission to fight fraud and ensure the crooks who choose to game the system are brought to justice quickly. Most Florida businesses play by the rules but when you intentionally defraud insurance companies it drives up costs for every Florida business and puts employees at risk. I want to thank my dedicated fraud detectives for their hard work in this case and holding the alleged perpetrators accountable for their actions. If you suspect fraud in your community, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.” An investigation was conducted by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services, Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud, which revealed that the owner of Angel M.E. Construction Corp, Mr. Angel S. Tzunun actively concealed payroll to avoid paying a higher workers' compensation premium. In 2021, Tzunun renewed his contract with Southeast Personnel Leasing, with a reported annual payroll of $4,200.00. Based on the reported payroll, a premium fee of $665 was paid for period of January 1, 2021, to March 29, 2021. Shortly after, Tzunun applied for coverage with Florida Citrus Business and Industries Fund and provide an estimated payroll of $166,400. Based on the provided information, a policy was issued with an effective date of April 5, 2021, to April 5, 2022, with a premium of $6,356. Read More

  • CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Two Arrests for Workers’ Compensation Fraud in Miami-Dade County

    January 26, 2024 MIAMI, Fla. Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Juana Ledezma and Luis Ledezma for Workers’ Compensation Premium Fraud and Grand Theft for allegedly concealing payroll to avoid paying a higher workers compensation premium. An investigation revealed that during the policy period, the Ledezmas would have been assessed an additional $127,660.00 in premium charges. CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Workers Compensation fraud is a costly crime that endangers Floridians and hurts honest business owners. As CFO, I remain committed to fighting fraud and ensuring that criminals who break the law are brought to justice. I want to thank my fraud detectives for working this case and brining these alleged criminals to justice.” An investigation was conducted by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services, Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud, which revealed that the owner of Superior Group Management Inc, Ms. Juana M. Ledezma and Mr. Luis I. Ledezma actively concealed payroll to avoid paying a higher workers' compensation premium. In 2020, Ms. Ledezma applied for worker compensation coverage with Clear Spring Insurance Company, with an annual estimated remuneration for the policy year would be $500,000. Based on the provided information, a traditional workers' compensation policy was issued with a premium of $31,294. Read More

  • Unhappy Workers Cost U.S. Businesses $1.9T

    January 23, 2024 Disgruntled employees cost U.S. companies an estimated $1.9 trillion in lost productivity last year, according to research from Gallup that puts a price tag on workplace unhappiness. That eye-popping figure stems from more Americans feeling detached from their employers in the aftermath of the pandemic. A measure of engagement from Gallup’s surveys had been steadily rising for a decade but peaked in 2020. The disruption of the past few years reduced satisfaction in the workplace, with more employees saying they don’t clearly know what’s expected of them — a symptom that reduces engagement. The stakes are high for companies because an engaged workforce increases productivity, and that helps boost sales and profit. Connecting better with staff also ups worker retention. Having motivated employees is linked to “a lot of different outcomes that are important to organizations,” said Jim Harter, chief scientist for Gallup’s workplace practice. Read More

  • Origami Risk launches workplace safety mobile app

    January 23, 2024 Origami Risk, a Chicago-based risk management software company, announced Tuesday the launch of its cellphone app Origami Mobile, designed for use by industry safety professionals. The app enables risk professionals, employees and contractors to conduct job site audits and inspections and report incidents from locations nationwide even in instances where Wi-Fi is unavailable. Users will be able to detect and report workplace operational hazards and behavior trends, monitor effectiveness of safety programs, gather and leverage real-time incident data and provide coaching and training services to workers. Read More

  • Landscaper cited after worker drowns in retention pond

    January 10, 2024 US Department of Labor finds Bradenton landscaper willfully endangered worker who drowned after being pinned underwater by riding mower. TruScapes Industries Inc. cited in 2015 in similar employee drowning incident. BRADENTON, FL – A 36-year-old mower operator drowned after the mower rolled over in a pond, pinning the worker underwater. Federal workplace safety inspectors determined the employer could have avoided the incident by following required safety measures outlined in the equipment operator's manual. An investigation into the July 4, 2023, incident by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the employee of TruScapes Industries Inc. in Bradenton was riding a zero-turn lawnmower in a residential neighborhood when it tipped over into a water retention pond. Investigators learned the machine's roll-over protection system was not engaged while operating on a sloping embankment near the pond and the equipment was operated on a slope that exceeded the limitations defined in the equipment manual. OSHA cited the employer for one willful violation for not having a rollover protection system in use and for operating the equipment on a steep slope, and one serious violation for not providing potable water for drinking. OSHA proposed $166,305 in penalties. The agency cited TruScapes after a similarly fatal incident in Bradenton in July 2015. In that investigation, OSHA issued TruScapes Industries five serious citations and proposed $18,200 in penalties. Read More

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