Make sure your project doesn’t turn into something you regret – protect yourself and your project to make sure things go smoothly.
Before Hiring a Contractor
- Do your homework
- Use our contractor verification tool to make sure your contractor meets state requirements:
- Verify the contractor has an active license.
- Ensure the contractor is bonded and insured for damages that may occur.
- Check that they maintain a safe job site or have corrected any violations.
- Review a contractor’s license history for previous lawsuits or license violations.
- Hire Smart – use our step-by-step guide to walk you through the contracting process.
- ProtectMyHome – get some helpful tips for home improvement projects.
- Plan ahead
- Get at least 3 written bids and compare them carefully.
- Be smart
- Get references, and stay alert for scams.
- Get a written contract, and make sure you understand the terms.
- Protect yourself
- Consider requesting a performance bond for larger projects.
For Employers and Business Owners
Employers and business owners have many responsibilities when hiring a contractor or subcontractor. It is important that you understand your workers’ compensation and safety requirements. Otherwise, your business may be vulnerable to unexpected regulatory penalties and even lawsuits.
You may need to provide workers’ comp.
- You must determine whether the person or contractor you hire qualifies as a covered worker or an independent contractor, or if you have prime contractor liability.
- Use our online tool to help determine if you will need to provide worker’s compensation.
- Read our independent contractor guide.
- Contact us to help you make a determination:
- If you are required to provide workers’ comp, you are usually required to pay unemployment taxes as well.
- Under Washington State law, you or your business could be liable for unpaid workers' compensation premiums of any person you hire or contract with.
What is a covered worker?
A covered worker is typically a person or contractor:
- Who is hired just for their personal labor.
- Whose work you direct or control, or the work of their employees.
- Who does not bring their own heavy equipment or machinery to the job site.
You must provide workers’ compensation coverage for covered workers.
What is an independent contractor?
An independent contractor is typically a person or contractor:
- That has an established business.
- Who directs or controls their own work, or the work of their employees.
- Who brings their own heavy equipment or machinery to the job site.
Independent contractors are required to have workers’ compensation coverage for themselves and their workers. It is your responsibility to verify your contractor has workers’ compensation coverage. Some independent contractors are exempt from industrial insurance coverage.
If the person you hire is an independent contractor, you may need to pay a prevailing wage.
What is a prime contractor?
Even if you’re not in business as a contractor, if you hire an independent contractor with employees, you may be a prime contractor.
- You may have to pay workers’ comp premiums even when hiring someone as an independent contractor.
- If the contractor you hire does not have appropriate workers’ comp insurance, you may have to provide it for them.
It is your responsibility to verify your contractor has workers’ compensation coverage.