News for Small Business — September 2012

News for Small Business - News for L&I small business 
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December 2012 | L&I's Small Business Liaisons, Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. Email: SmallBusiness@Lni.wa.gov.

Check the mailbox for your rate notice; no overall rate increase in 2013

L&I will begin mailing employers their individual rates notices the week of December 10. The new rates take effect Jan. 1, 2013. Employers who would like to know their business’s rates sooner can call their workers’ comp account manager. Employers can find their account manager’s name and contact information on their quarterly reports.

While there will be no overall rate increase in 2013, individual employers may see their rates go up or down, depending on their recent claims history and changes in the frequency and cost of claims in their industry risk class. L&I has published a table of 2013 workers’ comp base rates online.

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Protecting the good guys, going after the bad

Did you know that legitimate, tax-paying Washington contractors are routinely underbid by unregistered contractors? They gain an unfair advantage by working under the table.

It’s tough to find these illegal operators who work in the shadows, but L&I is committed to doing just that. In fact, L&I recently conducted surprise weekend “sweeps” in the Walla Walla, Spokane, Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Bellevue areas. In those five sweeps, L&I visited a total of 306 work sites and issued 41 citations for registration problems. The agency also found a number of other violations relating to uncertified plumbers, under-aged workers, and unpermitted work on manufactured homes. More sweeps throughout the state are anticipated.

Unregistered contractors place consumers who hire them at risk. In Washington, all contractors must be registered with L&I and carry a bond and insurance.

Working as a contractor without registration, even advertising to do so, can result in a minimum $1,000 penalty for a first offense. Penalties climb with each resulting citation.

You can help fight fraud by letting us know if you see a contractor who isn’t playing by the rules; call 1-888-811-5974

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State minimum wage rises to $9.19 per hour for 2013

Washington’s new minimum wage of $9.19 an hour will take effect on January 1, 2013, 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 15-cent increase reflects a 1.67 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, CPI-W) announced earlier this month by the federal government.

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 $7.81 in 2013.

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Free workplace posters available

State and federal law requires all employers to post certain workplace posters where employees can easily see and read them. For information on required federal and state posters and how to get free copies, please visit Workplace Posters: Required and Recommended.

Because they’ve been revised, new posters from L&I will be mailed to all employers in January.  L&I requires three different posters:  job safety, workers’ compensation coverage, and wage and hour laws. 

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L&I's new provider network starts next month

Beginning January 1, 2013, only providers in L&I’s new provider network can offer ongoing medical care to injured workers in Washington’s workers’ compensation system.

The network is part of the historic 2011 workers' comp reforms designed to improve outcomes for injured workers and cut costs for the state’s workers’ compensation program.

When the network begins, an injured worker can still see any doctor for their initial office or emergency room visit.  But for additional care, they will need to transfer to a medical provider in the new L&I network.

Anyone can check to see if a doctor is in the medical provider network by visiting www.FindADoc.Lni.wa.gov, an online directory that is updated daily.

The reforms, including the network, are expected to save $1.5 billion over the next four years. 

For media information: Barbara Davis, 360-902-4216.

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Does Seattle's new paid leave law affect your business? You may be surprised!

A new ordinance that began on  September 1, 2012,  requires certain businesses, whether located in Seattle or not, to provide a minimum level of paid sick and safe time leave to any of their employees who perform 240 hours of work or more within city limits in a calendar year.

The ordinance applies to all employers with more than four full-time equivalent employees. It covers workers who are considered full time, part time, or temporary. Actual leave accrual depends on the employer’s size and the number of hours an employee works in the city.

To learn more about the leave ordinance, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights has a free webinar that is available at this link Seattle Sick Leave and Safe Time Ordinance.

Or, contact the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at 206-684-4500.

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RESOURCES

Free DOR mobile app makes looking up tax rates easy

Businesses collecting and remitting sales and use taxes can now look up tax rates anywhere in Washington by using a free mobile app designed for mobile devices running an Android operating system or an iPhone. Note: The app requires some form of an internet connection to work.

The app is designed to provide a fast and accurate way of locating the tax rate for businesses making deliveries or providing retail services (including construction) with multiple locations in the state.

If you don't want to install the app, you can still use their web-based version on devices with an internet connection.

Users can:

•         Look up a sales or use tax rate by GPS or address

•         Calculate the total amount due

•         Send the rate, total amount and location code by text or email

•         Save a list of locations, rates and calculations

•         View the location on a map

To learn more visit, dor.wa.gov/TaxRateMobile

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