Employer workers’ compensation requirements

Workers’ compensation benefits are a result of an employer having workers’ compensation insurance. All coverage must come from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

According to the L&I, most employers must carry this insurance if they have any workers. However, the L&I also states there are some types of workers for which an employer does not have to offer this coverage.

Exempted employees

Employers do not have to have workers’ compensation insurance for individuals who are not regular employees or who work as a domestic worker. They do not have to cover unpaid volunteers or musicians not working for the primary business. Any freelance workers or independent contractors also do not qualify for coverage and therefore do not obligate the employer to carry coverage.

Elective coverage

Employers do have the right to choose to provide coverage for those individuals the law does not mandate that the employer cover. Elective coverage is completely optional and allows for the same benefits as an employee would get under mandatory coverage.

Out-of-state employers

Employers that are out-of-state but conducting work without the state must comply with the laws of Washington. The requirements cover employees even if they do not live in Washington.

The state does have reciprocal agreements with some other states, which does allow workers’ compensation coverage from another state to be applicable for work in Washington. In some cases, an employer will have to maintain insurance through its home state and through L&I to have complete and legal coverage, but there may be discounts or reductions to what the business owes L&I depending on the amount of time spent in the state.