Wash. Department of Labor proposes 4.9% rise in workers’ compensation rates
Sep 19, 2023, 6:20 PM
(Photo by Joel W. Rogers/Getty Images)
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is proposing an increase of 4.9% in workers’ compensation rates in 2024.
If the proposal is approved and adopted, the increase would mean employers and workers would jointly pay an additional $65 each year per employee for workers’ compensation insurance, according to L&I.
“With help from our reserves, we’re finding a balance between charging enough to cover costs and keeping rates steady and predictable, as Washington employers deal with economic uncertainty and lingering impacts of the pandemic,” Joel Slacks, director of L&I, said in a statement.
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A typical worker will continue to pay approximately a quarter of the premium much like they did in 2023, according to L&I. But the proposed increase will mean employees would pay about $11 more on average in 2024. The proposed increase is below what L&I expected to pay for 2024 claims, so the agency will augment the premiums with funds from the workers’ compensation contingency reserve.
L&I stated the rate increase is needed because Washington has had higher-than-normal increases in the state’s average wage in recent years.
This will be the fourth year the department has reduced the impact on employers and workers struggling from the pandemic by tapping the contingency reserve to avoid larger increases in premiums. If the agency did not tap into the reserve, L&I claimed it would need to raise average rates by nearly 10% to collect enough premiums to cover new claims in 2024.
“It’s good for workers that wages are rising, but that means the cost of replacing wages when a worker gets hurt goes up too,” Sacks said, according to L&I. “Our workers’ compensation State Fund investments are performing well, so we’re able to use the returns to help cover costs again this year instead of passing it on to employers.”
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Public hearings on the proposed increase are scheduled across the state in late October before L&I makes a final decision.
On Oct. 26 a hearing will be held in-person and virtually at 10:00 a.m. at L&I Headquarters in Tumwater. A hearing on Oct. 27 will be in-person in Spokane at 9 a.m. and a hearing on Oct. 31 will be in-person at 10:00 a.m. in Yakima.