Hiring a Farm Labor Contractor

Avoid Liability for Your Farm Labor Contractor’s Unpaid Debts

If you hire a farm labor contractor (FLC) to bring workers to your farm or land, you need to know that you could be liable for unpaid workers’ compensation premiums, unpaid wages, damages and civil penalties.

What is a farm labor contractor?

A FLC is any person, agency or subcontractor who performs any FLC activity for a fee. These activities include growing, producing, or harvesting farm or nursery products. They also include reforestation of lands; planting, transplanting, and thinning trees; and harvesting Christmas trees.

A farm labor contractor must obtain and maintain a FLC license issued by Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Why would I be liable for workers that an FLC hires?

If you hire a farm labor contractor, and that FLC does not meet its legal obligations, you may be liable for unpaid wages, damages, and workers’ compensation premiums.

  • FLC rules specify that if you knowingly hire an unlicensed FLC, you are liable for unpaid wages, damages, and civil and criminal penalties if the FLC fails to pay the workers. See WAC 296-310-260.
  • Washington State law makes anyone who hires a contractor of any kind potentially liable for workers’ compensation premiumsif the contractor does not pay. See RCW 51.12.070.

How can I protect my business when hiring an FLC?

Take steps to protect yourself before you hire an FLC.

  • Make sure your FLC has a current license from L&I.

Check the list of licensed FLCs in Washington State. This list is updated monthly.

If you do not see your FLC on the list, the FLC may not be licensed. In that case, please call L&I at 1-866-219-7321 to ask if your FLC is licensed.

  • Verify that your FLC is registered with L&I for workers’ compensation coverage. After you look up the FLC and verify coverage, print out the “Certificate of Coverage” for your records. You can also call L&I to verify the FLC’s workers’ compensation status.

Need more information?

Call or visit the nearest L&I office for assistance, or:

For information about FLC's, please contact the Farm Labor Contractor Supervisor at 360-902-4537 or send an email to esgeneral@Lni.wa.gov.

For information about industrial insurance, job classifications and premiums, please contact Debra Moderat 360-902-5598 or send her an email at Debra.Moder@lni.wa.gov.

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