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Most Frequently Asked Questions About L&I


Q: What is Washington's minimum wage?
A: L&I enforces the state's minimum wage law, which in 2010 is $8.55 per hour. A voter-approved initiative requires a cost-of-living increase for Washington's minimum wage each year. More about minimum wage can be found here.

Q: Why do I have to pay for industrial insurance?
A: Washington State requires that all employees be covered by industrial insurance. Premiums paid by employers and workers pay for medical care for job-related injuries and illnesses, and wage replacement when the injury or illness is serious enough to miss work. The system, in place since 1911, provides prompt payment to injured workers and protects employers from litigation.

Q: Who decides how much I have to pay for industrial insurance?
A: The Department of Labor & Industries sets the rate, but what you pay is based on the accident and illness rates in your industry-specific job and your company's claims history. Rates vary widely, depending on how risky a job is. For example, the rate for a few select jobs in the logging industry exceeds $10 per hour. For less risky clerical workers, the rate is as low as 11 cents for every hour worked. Rates within a particular industry will vary depending on the frequency and cost of workers' compensation claims filed by a particular company.

Q: What is the status of my workers' compensation claim?
A: (Was it approved? Where is my time-loss check?) L&I manages over 170,000 workers' compensation claims each year. Each claim has a number and is assigned to a claims manager. The injured worker will be notified shortly after a claim is filed as to what that number is and how to contact the claims manager. Because of the volume of claims, we can't always answer questions as quickly as we'd like. Signup to use the secure Claims & Account Center to get answers about your claim. L&I also maintains a toll-free number for questions about claims (1-800-831-5227). Review the "Injured: What you need to know" online guide about the claims process.

Q: What would be an allowable workers' compensation claim?
A: The program pays the cost of work-related injuries and health problems. This includes all medical costs (doctors, prescription drugs, hospital expenses, etc.). On claims where the injury or illness causes an employee to miss more than three days of work, L&I also provides partial wage replacement. Depending on the severity and nature of the injury, workers' compensation benefits may also include money for vocational rehabilitation services, partial disability payments, disability pensions and survivor benefits for the families of workers killed on the job.

Q: What can I do to minimize the cost of workers' compensation?
A: By maintaining a safe, injury-free workplace. You can do this by developing an on-going and effective safety program at your place of business. This program could include: Hiring policies that ensure a worker is fit to do the job he or she is hired for. Regular employee safety training dealing with such things as the proper use of equipment and how to identify and deal with potential hazards. Clearly written and displayed workplace safety and health rules. Incentive programs that promote and reinforce workplace safety. Careful monitoring of your claims to make sure the system isn't being abused.

Q: What does it mean that a contractor is registered by L&I?
A: It means that the contractor has a business license and insurance and is bonded and has paid a registration fee to L&I.

Q: How can I find out if a contractor is registered?
Conduct an online search for a listing of registered contractors, or call 1-800-647-0982.


Q: How do I get an electrical permit?
A: Go to our How to get electrical permits and schedule inspections page for instructions.

Q: How can I make sure my business/the place I work is meeting state safety and health standards?
A: You can call our toll-free line, 1-800-423-7233. You also can contact one of our 20 local offices around the state. We're listed in most phone books. The Thurston County office is at the Labor & Industries building at 7273 Linderson Way S.W. in Tumwater, 360-902-5799. We provide technical assistance to employers and employees. We also investigate worker safety and health complaints.

Q: What is WISHA?
A: WISHA is an acronym for a state law called the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. This law sets up a system for protecting worker health and safety. Safety standards are established for the wide variety of workplaces and occupations in our state. L&I provides technical assistance to employers and employees to foster a safe and healthful workplace environment. Enforcement inspections also take place and employers can be penalized for violations of workplace safety and health standards. Visit About WISHA for more information.

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