News for Small Business — October 2013

News for Small Business - News for L&I small business 
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This is a quarterly roundup of L&I news for small business. It's produced by the L&I Small Business Liaison Office, who can provide business owners with information and assistance resolving issues.

Join our email list to get future newsletters in your inbox. You can also read previous editions.

October 2013:


L&I proposes 2.7% average rise in workers' comp rates in 2014. Rate hearings scheduled for October.

Workers

L&I has proposed a 2.7% average increase for workers’ comp premiums for 2014, the first increase in three years.

"This proposal is part of a long-term plan to ensure steady and predictable rates, help injured workers heal and return to work, and reduce costs by improving operations," said L&I Director Joel Sacks. 

Read the full press release.

While the 2.7% proposed increase is an average over all risk classes, individual industries could be higher or lower. L&I has published a rate table online that shows the proposed 2014 base rates for each risk class.

We encourage you to make your voice heard at the upcoming rate hearings:

Comments about the proposed rates can be made at the public hearings or in writing to Doug Stewart, Employer Services Program Manager, P. O. Box 44140, Olympia, WA 98504-4140, or email to Doug.Stewart@Lni.wa.gov.

More information regarding the rates proposal is available at www.Rates.Lni.wa.gov  Final rates will be adopted in early December and go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.


Minimum wage to increase by 13 cents on January 1, 2014

Washington's minimum wage will increase to $9.32 per hour beginning January 1, 2014. We calculate the state's minimum wage each year as required by Initiative 688, approved by Washington voters in 1998.

The 13-cent-per-hour increase, from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour, reflects a 1.455% increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI‑W) over the last 12 months ending August 31. The increase was announced earlier this month by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Washington has the highest minimum wage, followed by Oregon, which recently announced its 2014 minimum wage will rise by 15 cents, to $9.10 per hour.

Washington's minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, although 14‑ and 15-year-olds may be paid 85% of the adult minimum wage, or $7.92 per hour in 2014.

More information on Washington's minimum wage is available at Wages.Lni.wa.gov. You can also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.
Washington State's minimum wage since 1999. Click to see a larger version.

 


L&I's ongoing effort to fight workers' comp fraud results in felony charges

Workers’ compensation fraud costs the Washington State workers’ comp system millions of dollars each year and everyone bears the costs. Employers, employees, insurance carriers and Washington consumers pay the cost in lost jobs and profit, lower wages and benefits, and higher costs for services and premiums.

L&I takes workers’ comp fraud very seriously and makes every effort to end the abuses.

Scales of justice

Here's a recent example:

Judy Darlene Chafin, 61, was charged September 26th in Lewis County Superior Court with one count of first-degree theft and 30 counts of forgery.

The charges resulted from an L&I investigation into Chafin's collecting more than $90,000 in state workers' compensation benefits from the fall of 2006 to August 2013. Chafin began receiving wage-replacement payments after suffering an on-the-job injury in September 2006.

According to charging papers, Chafin submitted dozens of workers' compensation claims stating that she could not work due to the injury. In reality, Lewis County prosecutors allege, Chafin had been operating The House of the Rising Son and other homes in the Chehalis and Centralia areas for released prisoners and homeless people since the latter half of 2006.

What can you do to stop workers’ compensation fraud?

Know the signs:

If you suspect that a worker is abusing the system, contact L&I at 1-888-811-5974 or EmployerFraud@Lni.wa.gov

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Washington business license fees increased

On October 1, it became a little more expensive to file an initial business license application and to renew an existing business license. The fee for filing a new license increased from $15 to $19, while the license renewal fee increased from $9 to $11.

This is the first time in more than 20 years that the state Business Licensing Services (BLS) has increased business licensing and renewal fees.

BLS is self-funded. The fees charged for applications and renewals pay for BLS operations. The fee increase was authorized to fund long-needed improvements and enhancements to the BLS system and to supports the long-term sustainability of BLS.

 

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