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L&I proposes workers comp rate increase

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | September 22, 2022 3:03 PM

TUMWATER — The Washington Department of Labor & Industries is proposing to raise the price that employers will pay for workers compensation insurance next year, according to an L&I press release.

The agency is proposing a 4.8% increase in workers compensation insurance rates for 2023, the press release said, citing general wage inflation and higher medical costs. In 2021 and 2022, L&I tapped its reserves in order to avoid raising insurance rates, according to the press release.

Employers pay the majority of the costs of worker’s compensation insurance, but employees pay roughly 25% of the cost of the monthly premium, and that won’t change in 2023, the press release said.

“Even with the increase, the average hourly rate businesses will pay will be about the same as they were paying in 2016,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in the press release. “After keeping rates steady to help businesses that were struggling during the pandemic, we’re now proposing a modest rate increase that’s in line with our goal of stable and predictable rates for businesses to ensure the long-term health of the worker’s compensation fund.”

However, Association of Washington Business President Kris Johnson said the proposed rate increase is just another higher cost both employers and employees will face during high inflation.

“If adopted, the proposed 4.8% increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates will add to the list of rising expenses for employers and make it that much harder to survive during what remains a challenging and uncertain time,” Johnson said in an AWB press release. “While it may be characterized as a small increase, a 4.8% average rate hike is larger than last year’s increase and it hits at a time when employers are facing the highest inflation in 40 years as well as other cost pressures including unemployment insurance and paid family and medical leave.”

Johnson added L&I missed an opportunity to make things easier and lower costs for both employers and workers in the state.

L&I has scheduled two public hearings to solicit public input on the proposed increase for Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 and 10 a.m. For more information about the proposal, visit the L&I website at http://www.lni.wa.gov/2023Rates.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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