Common L&I snags for a small business owner in Washington State

Avoid the traps many Washington State business owners find during wage and labor audits by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries:

  • Construction companies without a main storage space/yard work to qualify for “Permanent Yard or Shop” under WAC 296-17A-5206-79. L&I in Washington will only allow workers to be reported for this lower payment if the shop is for storage and maintenance only. Auditors will look for a shop that combines functions in one storage space and ding the employer for a higher risk classification for all employees.

  • Construction or other types of manufacturing companies where office staff share space with storage materials or a workshop space. L&I auditors will watch for office staff in a shared space without a wall between office employees and a workshop or a storage space, and if there is no physical wall the business owner will have to pay a higher wage rate classification for office staff.

  • Office staff who are sent to purchase supplies for a business that are not strictly office supplies. Auditors in Washington’s L&I Department will ding employers for any office staffer who is used to buy materials that are not strictly office supplies under WAC 296-17A-4904

  • Business owners who work without any employees on a job site. Business owners are normally exempt. However, if  L&I auditors find a business owner working alone on a job site as a laborer without any other employees present, they will require that the hours spent on the job site be reported as if the business owner were a worker.

Elizabeth Steen has 10 years experience in regulatory compliance and agency regulation. She’s worked in the United States Senate and as a contractor with federal and state agencies that include TSA, DHS, and the SEC.

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