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

September 2010 | L&I's Small Business Liaison, Ron Langley and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. E-mail: SmallBusiness@LNI.wa.gov.

L&I offers help for businesses

More than 4,800 Washington state businesses have been helped by a new Employer Assistance Program offered by L&I for employers at risk of being late on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

L&I launched the Employer Assistance Program last year.  It allows struggling businesses to extend payment of their workers’ compensation premiums to better manage their cash flow if they find themselves in trouble. The number to call is 1-800-301-1826.

The program was created after L&I discovered that more than half of the 13,000 employers delinquent with their workers’ comp accounts had previously held stellar records making their payments. Initially scheduled to last nine months, L&I announced it will continue the Employer Assistance Program due to the slow pace of the economic recovery.

"If you have a good payment history with L&I but you're having trouble paying your workers' comp premiums now, we want you to contact us and let us help you," said L&I Director Judy Schurke. "We can set up a payment plan and, in many cases, waive late penalties and interest."

Schurke noted that L&I is also helping employers with new technology to help track down businesses that don't cover their employees with workers' compensation insurance.  The new system, which begins this fall uses software to flag businesses that fail to register with the state and pay into the workers' compensation system.

Business owners already have been helping to fight fraud.  Schurke pointed out that tips to the L&I fraud hotline,1-888-811-5974, have nearly doubled in the past 12 months, to about 2,100 tips a year.

Biz Fair 2010: Saturday, Sept. 25

Learn from the experts how to form and run a successful business at the 14th annual Washington Small Business Fair.

"Biz Fair 2010" happens Saturday, September 25, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Renton Technical College, 3000 NE 4th Street, in Renton.

Sharpen your skills at seminars that cover important, up-to-date topics for all stages of business ownership. Savvy business experts share their knowledge and real-life experiences with you. Also, connect with 30 federal, state and local government agencies, and business and trade associations to get the information you need.

See what people are saying about BizFair on the BizFair Facebook page.

The fair is free, with plenty of free parking and no advance registration.

Resources

Passwords last longer now for L&I online systems

You will no longer have to change your password every quarter when using L&I online systems.

Under the old system, a user would have to change their password every 120 days when using the L&I Claim and Account Center (CAC) and the online quarterly report filing system. Now, you must change your password every 13 or 24 months, depending on the service and the confidentiality of the data being accessed. As an example, access to sensitive and private medical information about your injured workers will require the more frequent password change every 13 months, while other services require 24-month changes.

You can sign up for online services by simply going to the L&I home page at www.Lni.wa.gov and selecting the "Claim and Account Center" link on the upper-right side of the page. Help with L&I online services is available at 360-902-5999.

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L&I training and workshops for September/October

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 regularly sends the latest training calendar straight to your e-mail.

Read the September/October Training Calendar.

Rules, regulations and laws update

Farm internship program underway

L&I now offers special certification for small farms in two western Washington counties that want to teach interns about their craft.

Last winter, the state Legislature passed SSB 6349, which directed L&I to create a farm internship pilot project for San Juan and Skagit counties. Small farms with special certification from L&I can employ up to three interns per year and pay no wages or below minimum wage while teaching interns about farming practices and farm enterprises. The farm must also provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for interns.

The program requires both a written agreement between the intern and the farm and an application from the farm that provides a description of the program, the work to be performed, and any wages to be paid.

Call the L&I Employment Standards division for more information, 1-866-219-7321.

For more information on the new farm internship program, please see the L&I publication – Small Farm Internship Pilot Program. You can also read the rules for the internship program on the L&I website.

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