§ 28-33-17.2. Employee's affirmative duty to report earnings Penalties for failure to provide earnings report Civil and criminal liability.
(a) It is the intent of the legislature that the costs resulting from fraud and abuse in the workers' compensation system be arrested. In order to discourage potential abusers, employees must be aware of the affirmative duty to report earnings and the penalties for any fraud or abuse must be severe and certain.
(b) Any employee entitled to receive weekly workers' compensation benefits shall have an affirmative duty to report those earnings, including wages or salary remuneration paid for personal services, commissions, and bonuses, including the cash value of all remuneration payable in any medium other than cash, earned from self-employment or from any employer other than the employer in whose employ he or she was injured, so that compensation benefits may be properly computed.
(c)(1) The department of labor and training, employer, or insurer shall notify any employee receiving weekly workers' compensation benefits, on forms prescribed by the department, of that employee's affirmative duty to report earnings and shall specifically notify the employee that a failure to report earnings may subject him or her to civil or criminal liability.
(2) The notice by the employer or insurer may be satisfied by printing the notice on the employee payee statement (check stub) portion of indemnity checks sent to the employee, or by incorporating said notice in an agreement for electronic fund transfer or use or issuance of an electronic access device, signed by both the employee and the employer or its insurer.
(d) Any employee entitled to weekly workers' compensation benefits for any period of time shall, upon written request of the employer or insurer, provide at reasonable intervals to the employer or insurer an earnings report, on forms prescribed by the department, advising the employer or insurer of the exact amount of earnings for each week of his or her entitlement to benefits or advising that no earnings were received for particular weeks, so that the employer or insurer may properly compute the amount of benefits due to the employee.
(e) If any employee refuses to submit an earnings report upon request by the employer or insurer his or her rights to compensation may be suspended and his or her compensation during that period of suspension may be forfeited.
(f) Where any employee is found to be entitled to benefits in excess of fifty-two (52) weeks pursuant to a decision resulting in the entry of an order or decree, he or she shall submit an earnings report as described in subsection (d) of this section. In these cases, the employer or insurer must pay benefits within seven (7) days of receipt of the earnings report; provided, that no petition to enforce shall be allowed nor any penalty for late payment awarded unless payments were not made within seven (7) days after the earnings report has been provided.
(g) The employer or insurer shall be entitled to recover overpayments made to any employee as a result of a violation of the employee's duty to report earnings by any of the following means:
(1) Upon petition and order of the workers' compensation court to suspend the employer's obligation to pay weekly benefits.
(2) By civil action in the district or superior court. Costs and counsel fees for the action may be awarded to the employer or insurer.
(h) Any employee who, by any fraudulent means, obtains, or attempts to obtain, workers' compensation benefits, whether by failure to report earnings; falsification of the earnings report document; or intentional misrepresentation; may forfeit the right to any future, weekly workers' compensation benefits as determined by the workers' compensation court.
(i) Any employee who, by any fraudulent means, obtains, or attempts to obtain, workers' compensation benefits to which he or she was not entitled, whether by failure to report earnings; falsification of the earnings report; or intentional misrepresentation; shall be deemed guilty of larceny pursuant to § 11-41-4 or other pertinent criminal statutes of the state of Rhode Island. Each occurrence shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
(j) The administrator of the workers' compensation court, any workers' compensation judge, or any representative of an employer may be the party complainant to any complaint and warrant brought to invoke the criminal penalties provided for in this section, and the party complainant shall, except for the representative of the employer, be exempt from giving surety for costs in the action.
(k) All criminal actions for any violation of this section shall be prosecuted by the attorney general.
(l) Where any employer or insurer intentionally and unreasonably utilizes the earnings report required by subsection (d) of this section in order to harass an employee or delay payment of benefits to an employee, a penalty of twenty percent (20%) shall be added to all amounts of weekly compensation benefits due and owing.
(P.L. 1990, ch. 279, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 332, art. 3, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 31, § 5; P.L. 1993, ch. 119, § 1; P.L. 2015, ch. 104, § 2; P.L. 2015, ch. 116, § 2.)