News for Small Business – December 2011

News for Small Business - News for L&I small business 

customers and tips for saving time and moneyI

December 2011 | L&I's Small Business Liaisons, Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. E-mail: SmallBusiness@Lni.wa.gov.

Small businesses lead the way in online filing

More than 95,000 businesses, the majority being small businesses, are saving themselves and L&I time, money, and hassle by making the move to filing their quarterly reports online.

Over $500,000 in administrative costs has been saved as a result of the 15,000 businesses that started filing online in 2011. Plus, L&I account managers now can focus more of their efforts on helping customers. The savings come from:

  • Eliminating the need for staff to key data from paper reports into the L&I computer system.
  • Spending far less time correcting errors, of which 90% involve paper reports.
  • Avoiding costs of printing and mailing paper reports.

 

5 helpful features of the secure QuickFile system

  1. There's no password, no hassles.
  2. File in just 4 easy steps.
  3. Pay with a paper check or a one-time e-check option.
  4. Sign up for e-mail reminders.
  5. Print a receipt.

Not yet filing online? Why not try filing your next quarterly report online!

Businesses say that online filing is fast and easy and online filers are more satisfied with the filing experience than paper filers, according to a recent survey. Go to www.QuickFile.Lni.wa.gov and file in 3 minutes or less. You will need your account ID and UBI numbers.

 

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State minimum wage changes in 2012

Washington's minimum wage will increase to $9.04 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2012 for most adult workers. L&I calculates the state's minimum wage each year as required by Initiative 688, approved by Washington voters in 1998. The 37-cent increase reflects a 4.258 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPIW) since August 2010.

Washington's minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, although 14 and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $7.68 in 2012.

More information on Washington's minimum wage is available at: www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/Minimum.

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Top 10 workplace safety violations of 2011

Failing to train or warn workers about hazardous chemicals in the workplace was the most frequently cited violation among general businesses for 2011.

L&I safety and health inspectors conduct about 7,000 inspections each year and issue 5,000 citations, some of them with multiple violations. Most of the frequently cited violations involve basic workplace safety laws that all employers in the state must follow.

A lack of safety committees or a written accident prevention program also fell among the Top 10 most frequent violations.

The complete list, in order of most frequently cited, included the following topics:

  1. Hazardous chemicals communications
  2. Safety committees and safety meetings
  3. Accident Prevention Program
  4. Personal protective equipment
  5. Basic electrical rules
  6. Portable fire extinguishers
  7. First aid and emergency washing
  8. Forklifts and other powered industrial truck training
  9. Exit routes and employee alarm systems
  10. Confined space entry procedures

L&I can help businesses address safety hazards or ensure that their safety and health programs meet state requirements.

  • L&I has free and confidential safety consultants who can analyze your employee safety and accident prevention programs. For information on L&I Safety & Health Consultation or to arrange a consultation, please visit www.SafetyConsultants.LNI.wa.gov. You can also call your local L&I office.
  • For general workplace safety information, please visit www.SafetyBasics.Lni.wa.gov.
  • Look up free workshops on a variety of safety topics, including creating effective Accident Prevention Programs, at www.Workshops.Lni.wa.gov.

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L&I's "Claim-Free Discount" cuts costs for employers

Business owners can get discount on workers' comp premiums by earning a "Claim Free Discount."

Employers receive the discount when they have gone approximately three years without a claim in which wage-replacement benefits or a permanent partial disability (PPD) award were paid. Claims that require only medical treatment do not count against the claim-free discount.

A firm's discount will ultimately depend upon the amount of claim free hours they report. Most small businesses with a claim-free discount see approximately a 10-percent reduction in their rates.

L&I offers a variety of services designed to help business owners keep their workers' comp costs as low as possible. Those services include:

  • Free and confidential workplace safety consultations.
  • Risk Management Consultants who can provide advice on when it's an employer's interest to keep an injured worker on payroll.
  • L&I's new Stay at Work Program encourages employers to bring their injured workers quickly and safely back to light-duty or transitional work by reimbursing a portion of their costs. Employer wage and reimbursement forms will be available on the Stay at Work website when the program goes live on January 10, 2012. For more information, go to www.StayAtWork.lni.wa.gov. Questions? E-mail: StayAtWork@Lni.wa.gov or call 360-902-4411 or toll-free 1-866-406-2482

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New one-stop resource for small businesses

Washington State has launched a new web-based toolkit to help small businesses get growing.

The Washington State Small Business Guide is a one-stop resource for information you need to plan, start, run, and grow your small business. Developed collaboratively among Washington State agencies, the guide answers questions about:

  • Licenses and permits
  • Taxes Hiring employees
  • Getting a loan
  • How to find resources

The Washington State Small Business Guide puts it all at your fingertips; information where you need it, when you want it. Spend less time looking for the answers and more time using them! Check it out at www.bizguide.wa.gov

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L&I calendar of upcoming training and workshops

Build your skills for managing workplace safety, workers' comp and construction contracting at an L&I workshop or training session near you. Sign up for a free service that regularly sends the latest training calendar straight to your e-mail. Read the list of currently available workshops (158 kb PDF)

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