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What to know about workers' compensation in Washington

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January 27, 2022
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What to know about workers' compensation in Washington

Workers’ compensation, which can provide cash and medical care to employees injured on the job, and benefits to survivors in cases of a work-related death, began with a federal program in 1908. It gave benefits to civilian workers whose jobs were hazardous and became the first kind of social insurance established across the United States.

By 1916, the rest of the federal workforce was covered. States meanwhile were enacting their workers’ compensation laws. All but six states and the District of Columbia had them by 1921.

Today, programs exist in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The details of each program vary by state. Four states—Ohio, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming—require insurance be obtained through a state-administered fund rather than through a private insurer. Another option is to self-insure for approved businesses. Most states require some businesses to provide coverage and can levy substantial fines for failing to comply. South Dakota and Texas leave the choice to businesses, although Texas makes an exception for construction companies with a government contract.

Simply Business reviewed rules, statistics, and other information about workers’ compensation insurance—including the comprehensive breakdown by the National Federation of Independent Business—to offer a breakdown of what workers’ comp requirements in each state. Rules are subject to updates periodically, so it’s important to stay up-to-date based on your trade and location.

Workers' Compensation in Washington

Employers with at least one employee must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, which must be obtained from Washington’s state-administered fund. Among the exemptions are domestic workers, although if two or more servants are employed regularly for more than 40 hours a week, they must be covered. Other exclusions include private gardeners for residences; maintenance or repairs workers; laborers on family farms who are minors; some musicians and entertainers; and barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists who rent their spaces. Sole proprietors, partners, and members of limited liability companies are not required to have coverage, but can if they choose. Among the penalties: Failure to pay a claim is $1,000 maximum or double the amount of the premium.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Costs, and Coverage, an October 2021 report from the National Academy of Social Insurance, found that total benefits paid to employees rose by 0.4% nationwide from 2015 to 2019. Cash benefits rose by 2%, but medical benefits fell by 1.1%. Standardized benefits fell— cash by 14% and medical benefits by 16.7%—over the same period.

Keep reading to see what workers' compensation looks like for other states in your area.

Workers' Compensation in Idaho

Coverage is required for employers with one or more employees, whether full-time, part-time, occasional, or seasonal. Some exemptions: sole proprietors and certain relatives living in the employer's household, agricultural pilots, real estate salespeople who get paid solely on commission, domestic workers, and casual employees whose work is unrelated to the employer’s business. Fines for failing to acquire coverage can be $2 a day for each employee or $25 a day, whichever is higher. If a worker is injured, the employer may be liable for the medical costs and wages lost, plus a 10% penalty and attorneys fees, if applicable. Idaho offers a state-administered fund.

Workers' Compensation in Oregon

Workers’ compensation insurance is required of employers with one or more employees. The penalty for failing to have insurance starts with twice the amount of premium that should have paid, at a minimum of $1,000. For each additional day of noncompliance, the penalty will be up to $250 a day, with no limit. Oregon offers a state-administered fund.

This story originally appeared on Simply Business and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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