News for Small Business – July 2011

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August 2011 | L&I's Small Business Liaisons, Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. E-mail: SmallBusiness@Lni.wa.gov.

Legislature passes new workers' comp reforms

Washington State Legislative Building

In this 100th anniversary year of the Washington workers' compensation system, the Legislature passed milestone reforms for the system. The changes will improve care for injured workers, return them to work as quickly as possible, reduce long-term disabilities, and put the Washington workers' compensation system on a more sustainable financial footing. The business community played a pivotal role in negotiations with labor and other stakeholders toward getting this important suite of legislation passed.

 

Here is a brief summary of some of the major changes:

  • Establishment of a statewide medical provider network for treating injured workers: The goal of the network is to maintain worker choice, assure access to quality care, and provide incentives to the medical community to increase their training in occupational health best practices.
  • Expansion of the successful COHE program: Four Centers of Occupational Health and Education are operating in the state today and have shown positive results toward reducing lost work time and claims costs for those served through the program. New legislation will allow L&I to expand the number of programs over the next few years so that COHEs, which utilize best practices in occupational health and coordinate with employers toward returning injured workers to work.
  • Washington Stay at Work program: This program will offer wage subsidies to employers who bring workers back to a light duty transitional job while they are recovering from an injury. Studies show that returning people to work quickly improves lifetime wages and reduces long-term disabilities. (State fund employers only; not self-insured employers.)
  • Structured settlement option: This legislation provides an option for eligible older injured workers to choose to resolve their claims by negotiating a settlement instead of staying in the workers' comp system and receiving benefits or participating in retraining. The option will be available to those 55+ for the first year, moving down to 50+ over five years.
  • Changes in mail requirements: Legislation will allow L&I to use alternatives to certified mail where appropriate, based on business need, as long as the method can be tracked or delivery confirmed. If requested by the recipient, some types of correspondence will be able to be mailed electronically.
  • Workers' compensation coverage for "For Hire Vehicles and Operators": This legislation requires mandatory industrial insurance coverage for taxi, limousine and certain other for-hire vehicle operators, and creates penalties for failure to pay premiums. L&I will work with the industry to establish the basis for premiums.
  • Fraud initiative: L&I will expand its fraud-fighting efforts by participating in a national insurance information exchange with other workers' comp insurers. By cross-matching claim information with workers' comp insurers in other states, L&I can more easily identify duplicate claims. The bill also requires L&I to address fraudulent billing practices by medical providers.
  • Other changes: Other changes that help reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and help stabilize the workers' comp system for the future include the following: freezing cost of living increases for workers' comp pension and time loss recipients for one year; deducting permanent partial disability payments from pension awards; making the Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) program permanent; and establishing a rainy day fund for the workers' compensation system.

 

You tell us what works

Want to improve your access to safety & health information on the L&I website?

Please invest a few minutes of your time and complete five simple tasks as part of our usability study. When you're ready to begin, start the study at http://bit.ly/2011LNISafetyWebStudy

If you have any questions about the study, please email Paul Marsh at Paul.Marsh@LNI.WA.GOV

 

Word's getting out electronic filing is the way to go!

The popularity of L&I's online services has grown steadily, with online workers' compensation premium filing up more than 300 percent since 2007. Employers benefit from the quick, easy and secure payment process.

In fact, some of our customers suffered a slowdown in our online system in late July because a large number of big reports arrived from multiple senders at the same time including thousands of new quarterly reports. We apologize for any trouble, and we are taking immediate action to correct the technical problem.

Due to the system issues, we extended the deadline for filing 2nd quarter reports. Any employers who file their 2nd quarter reports by Friday, August 5, will be credited for any penalties or interest that were automatically applied to their account.

L&I will be ready for the increased demand next quarter. We're already working on upgrading the equipment needed to accommodate new online filers and will have the new equipment ready for next quarter's filing period. You can read more at this link Late filing penalties waived following computer slowdown.

Thank you for using online filing!

 

Do more through L&I's online Claim & Account Center

If you want access to information to help you manage your account, sign up for L&I's online Claim & Account Center. The registration process takes a few minutes but once you're registered, you have more options for quarterly reporting as well as access to information about your account and any claims.

If you file your quarterly report inside the Claim & Account Center, you can:

  • Start a report, save it and then go back to it later.
  • Pay online and choose the date your payment comes out of your account.
  • Review past reports filed, and request a correction if needed.
  • Check your account balance, rates and request a change to a risk class.

Launched in early 2005, L&I's online Claim & Account Center has been a big hit with employers, health-care providers, and injured workers who use it to keep track of their accounts or claims without having to call L&I for answers.

Between April and June 2011, Claim & Account Center users viewed nearly 6.7 million imaged documents or data screens no more waiting for the mail!

 

Licensing move will streamline business license process

Effective July 1, administration of the state's Master (business) License Service was transferred from the Department of Licensing to the Department of Revenue. The change will be largely transparent to users while creating a more centralized system to leverage Revenue's existing relationships with businesses and local governments that use licensing services.

Now called the Business Licensing Service, the division maintains regulatory authority over 37 different licensing services. The transfer was supported by Governor Gregoire and both state agencies.

Suzan DelBene, Revenue Director, said the agency will continue to work with stakeholders to make it easier for businesses to obtain and renew licenses.

Contractor licensing, Electrical certification, Factory Assembled Structures, Elevators, Plumbers, and Boiler licensing will remain at Labor and Industries.

For more information, please follow this link- http://dor.wa.gov/content/aboutus/newsroom/2011/051111.aspx

RESOURCES

Save the Date! Biz Fair 2011 - One Day, One Place

Learn from the experts how to form and run a successful business at the 15th annual Washington Small Business Fair. Biz Fair 2011 happens Saturday, September 24, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Renton Technical College, 3000 NE 4th Street, in Renton.

Sharpen your skills -- attend 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. Save valuable time -- connect with 30 federal, state and local government agencies, and business and trade associations to get the information you need. The fair is free, with plenty of free parking and no advance registration required. Visit the Biz Fair website for more information.

 

L&I calendar of upcoming training and 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 regularly sends the latest training calendar straight to your email.

Read the list of currently available workshops.

 

"Employer's Intro to L&I" coming to four cities soon

Business owners and managers can gain significant understanding toward preventing unnecessary costs, citations and employment issues by attending L&I's "Employer's Introduction to L&I."

Free workshops are being offered in:

  • Mt. Vernon, Aug 25
  • Spokane, Sep 13
  • Vancouver, Sep 14
  • Tacoma, Sep 15
  • Other locations later in the year

For complete information about the workshops, visit Employer's Introduction to L&I.

 

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