News for Small Business - News for L&I small business customers and tips for saving time and moneyI
August 2008

New mandatory leave laws affect all employers

Two new mandatory leave laws passed by the 2008 Legislature are now in effect and apply to all Washington employers, public or private, regardless of the number of workers you have.

Deployed soldiers' spouses have rights to time off

Spouses of soldiers involved in military deployment now have the right to unpaid time off in certain circumstances. Spouses can substitute paid vacation, sick leave or other types of leave they have accrued (if these benefits are offered by the employer) for any part of the time off they take under this new law.

A new law allows up to 15 days unpaid leave per deployment. To qualify, the worker must:

  • Work an average 20 hours or more per week;
  • Have a spouse who is a member of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves.

The law applies in the following circumstances:

  • Time of conflict declared by the President or Congress;
  • Before and up to the spouse’s military deployment;
  • When the military spouse is on leave from deployment.

This leave does not apply when military personnel return from deployment. A worker must notify their employer within five business days of receiving official notice that their spouse will be on leave or answering a call to active duty.

Leave for domestic violence victims and their family members

Domestic violence victims will be able to take unpaid time off of work in order to take care of legal or law enforcement needs, or get health care and counseling. Family members of a victim may also take leave to help the victim seek needed help.

Features of the new law:

  • Employees may use sick leave or other paid time off, compensatory time, or take unpaid leave time.
  • “Family member” includes a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or a person the employee is dating.

The law says that the victim or caregiver may take “reasonable” leave but does not otherwise specify the amount of time that may be taken.

For questions about any of Washington State’s leave laws, contact your local L&I office or the L&I headquarters office in Tumwater at 360-902-5316. Information on the web at:

Is your independent contractor really an employee?

An otherwise independent business owner must be covered by workers' compensation insurance as if they were an employee if they are providing just their personal labor and are working with you or other contractors under your direction.

Some employers are taking another look at independent contractors because Washington’s independent contractor law changed effective June 12, 2008.

In fact, most requirements under the revised law are exactly the same as in the previous version; however, changes were made in two areas:

  • The new law requires that independent contractors have a current business registration with the state Department of Revenue.
  • For construction contractors, the new law also specifies that an independent contractor must have a current L&I construction contractor registration. The revised law includes a specific set of requirements just for the construction industry because of this one requirement. Otherwise, the requirements in the construction industry test are exactly the same as before and exactly the same as requirements for all other industries.

Find a step-by-step checklist for independent contractors on the L&I web site at:

You can review changes in the law made by the Legislature at:

For information, contact L&I at 360-902-4750.

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Get a grant for your safety training and technology project

L&I has chosen the first batch of projects eligible for their share of
$8 million worth of workplace safety grants in a new program approved by the State Legislature. The goal is to tap good ideas that can reduce workplace illness, injuries, and deaths in Washington workplaces. Here’s what you need to qualify:

  • You must have a proposal that addresses technological improvement or innovation, or safety training/education that reduces accidents in the workplace.
  • You may apply on your own or in partnership with a business, trade association, labor organizations, and other approved entities that pay workers’ compensation premiums.

The grants have no monetary limit. L&I and a newly-established advisory committee judge each proposal on its merits. Formal rules for the grants can be found online at: All products from publicly funded projects will be made available for public use.

For more information, call Ken Mettler, program grants manager, at 360-902-6307, or by e-mail at

Tools to save time and money

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Get a small business boost at
Biz Fair 2008

Biz Fair logoA great place to find small business help is the 12th Annual Washington Small Business Fair. This free event offers valuable information and counseling from business experts and staff from federal and state government agencies. “Biz Fair 2008” is scheduled Saturday, September 6, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Renton Technical College, 3000 NE 4th Street, in Renton.

Biz Fair is free, with plenty of free parking and no advance registration. You can stay for the entire event or come for part of the day. Seminar topics and driving directions can be found at

Free workshop: Hire the right person the first time, every time

Experts from respected human resources consultant Humanix will teach a free seminar in Spokane on September 24, providing tips from the pros on hiring and keeping good people.

The two-hour session will cover these critical skills:

  • Write a job description that helps you hire the right person
  • How to do effective background checks, substance abuse screening, and reference checks
  • Questions you can legally ask during an interview or reference check
  • How to keep your good employees
  • A template for a Safety Plan for small business – Keep your workers safe and avoid costly workplace injuries

This free workshop is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, September 24, at the Spokane Convention Center, 322 N. Spokane Falls Blvd., right after the Greater Spokane Incorporated annual meeting at the convention center.

To register, please send your name and company name to:

For more information, contact Ron Langley at 1-800-987-0145.

One-stop shopping for L&I employer workshops

Build your skills for managing workplace safety, workers’ comp and construction contracting at an L&I workshop or training session near you. Sign up for a free service that will regularly send the latest training calendar straight to your e-mail. Just click this link:

To view calendars already sent to our subscribers, select the “View the archives” link on the sign-up page.

Washington State Legislative Building

Rules, regulations and laws update

New crane safety law will mostly affect construction industry

Public hearings are scheduled in August and September for L&I regulations that will carry out a new law covering the safety of construction cranes and certification of their operators.

Cranes involved in construction activities, including delivery of supplies to construction sites, are covered by these rules and both the crane operator and the crane will have to be certified and meet the requirements of the rules, unless specifically exempted by law.

Lifting equipment such as tow trucks, forklifts and certain types of hoists are not affected by the new law. Take a look at the law, RCW 49.17.400-440, on the web at, for the full list of equipment not affected by the law.

Draft rules for carrying out the new law, and public hearing dates and locations, are on the web at:

Court ruling changes overtime for truckers

L&I will hold a public hearing on August 29 in Tumwater to take information and comments about proposed changes to rules covering overtime worked by truck drivers.

The rulemaking is in response to a Washington State Supreme Court ruling in Bostain v. Food Express Inc. In that case, the court ruled that RCW 49.46.130(1) requires overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 per week for interstate driving, including hours spent working out of state. Current rules require overtime pay for truck drivers only for their hours worked within Washington. These rules are not consistent with the decision and need to be amended. More information and public hearing details at:

Rules clarify workers’ comp for out-of-state jobs

The State Legislature has passed law changes that define when an employee working on an out-of-state job should be covered by Washington workers’ compensation or coverage from the other state. This change eliminates the situation in which employers were sometimes required to pay workers’ compensation premiums in both states. Rules carrying out these changes have been proposed and scheduled for public hearings in September.

More information and public hearing details are at:

Information about all proposed L&I rules:

Get e-mail updates on proposed L&I rules:

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