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About Stop Work Orders


What is a Stop Work Order?

A Stop Work Order is a legal notice requiring employers to immediately suspend all work and business operations.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) issues Stop Work Orders to construction contractors and electrical contractors who are not paying workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Those who violate the order face a fine of $1,000 a day.

The state law allowing for Stop Work Orders is RCW 51.48.022 (apps.leg.wa.gov).


How a Stop Work Order is served

A Stop Work Order can be served (officially given) to a contractor in 1 of 2 ways:  

  • Posted on a specific work site in a conspicuous location. That suspends work only at that site.
  • Served on the contractor or electrical contractor. That suspends work on all of that employer's work sites.

How to resume work after receiving a Stop Work Order

To resume work after receiving a Stop Work Order, a contractor must:

  1. Register as a contractor with L&I.
  2. Provide employees with workers' compensation coverage or qualify as a self-insurer.
  3. Complete 1 of the following actions:
    • Pay cash or bond in the amount listed on the order. This must be paid at the office listed on the order within 10 days of receiving the order. This is a deposit toward future assessed premiums that will come from an audit.  
    • Seek reconsideration of the order within 10 days of receiving it, and pay a cash deposit or bond in the amount listed on the order. The employer may resume working while the order is being reconsidered.

What a contractor can do if the contractor disagrees with a Stop Work Order

If a contractor disagrees with a Stop Work Order, the contractor must complete 1 of the following actions:

  • Seek reconsideration of the order within 10 days of receiving it, and pay a cash deposit or bond in the amount listed on the order. The employer may resume working while the order is being reconsidered.
  • Seek reconsideration of the order within 10 days of receiving it, but without paying the deposit or bond. Under this option, the contractor cannot work until the reconsideration process is completed.

How to request reconsideration of a Stop Work Order

To request reconsideration of a Stop Work order, a contractor must:

  1. Write a brief explanation of reasons for disagreeing with the order.
  2. Complete 1 of the following actions within 10 days of receiving the order:
    • Bring the letter to the L&I office listed on the order. If seeking an option requiring a bond or cash deposit, you must pay it in person at the office listed on the order. Here's a list of L&I office locations.
    • Email the letter to reconsideration235@Lni.wa.gov.
    • Fax the letter to 360-902-4650.
    • Mail the letter to L&I at the following address:

      Washington Department of Labor & Industries
      P.O. Box 44172
      Olympia, WA, 98504-4172

L&I must reconsider the Stop Work Order within 10 days. If the contractor does not agree with the result, the order may be appealed to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.


How to appeal a Stop Work Order directly to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals

To appeal a Stop Work Order directly to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, a contractor must:

  1. Send the reconsideration letter to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals at the following address:

    Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals
    P.O. Box 42401
    Olympia, WA 98504-2401
  2. Send a copy of the reconsideration letter to L&I at the following address:

    Washington Department of Labor & Industries
    P.O. Box 44172
    Olympia, WA 98504-4172

How to resume work after receiving a Stop Work Order on a project with a general contractor

The recipient of a Stop Work Order can reach an agreement with the general contractor to provide the recipient's employees with workers' compensation insurance. Work may then resume. Contact the revenue agent for details.  

However, the Stop Work Order will remain against the recipient until the recipient opens a workers' compensation account and pays the Stop Work Order penalty.

In the meantime, the recipient may return to work at the site as an employee of the general contractor. (Learn about the test to determine who must be covered by workers' comp in the Independent Contractor Guide (F101-063-000).)


How the cash deposit or bond for a Stop Work Order is calculated

State law sets the cash deposit or bond for a Stop Work Order at a minimum of $5,000 total, or at $1,000 per worker, whichever is greater.


Additional information about Stop Work Orders

For more information about Stop Work Orders:

  • Please review our Stop Work Order Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Call the L&I revenue agent assigned to the contractor's account to discuss your specific project or Stop Work Order. The agent's name and phone number is listed on the orange Stop Work Order that's posted on the job site and on the "notice and order to stop work" that's given to the contractor.
  • Call 253-596-3834 to learn about Stop Work Orders in general.

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