The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) administers workers’ compensation benefits in Washington State. These include financial benefits such as time-loss compensation, loss of earning power, work injury pension, and more. Payments come from the L&I accident fund. Furthermore, benefits include medical treatment, evaluation, vocational services and retraining, and others. Also, self-insured employers administer their claims according to the requirements of the Industrial Insurance Act.
L&I premium payments for employers and employees
A few weeks ago I posted an article about the health of the L&I Accident Fund. There, I discussed how historic rebates depleted the fund and led to significant premium hikes. However, these last few months, COVID-19 impacted our economy greatly. Therefore, we must be especially careful to maintain the health of the L&I Accident Fund.
Typically, employers pay their L&I insurance premium on a quarterly basis. L&I premium payments for the second quarter of 2020 are due July 31st, 2020. However, according to a recent L&I news bulletin, employers that experience financial hardship and cannot pay their workers’ compensation premiums can request a 90-day payment deferment. Under this relief package, L&I will give employers until November 2nd, 2020 to pay those premiums for the second quarter of 2020. These premiums cover the months of April, May, and June of 2020. Interestingly, this is the second premium extension this year. Recall, L&I already extended the premium deadline for the first quarter of 2020 to July 31st, 2020.
Why is L&I extending the premium payment period?
In extending these premium payment deadlines, L&I acknowledges that the Corona-Virus pandemic continues to impact employers financially. As a result, employers may either request a 90-day extension for payment or a 90-day payment plan. Regardless of the request, L&I will not penalize employers. Furthermore, late payments will not incur interest charges as long as employers pay the premiums within the 90-day extension period.
However, it’s important to note that employers are not automatically eligible for the premium-payment extension program. If granted, employers must still file quarterly reports on time by July 31st, 2020. Here, to take advantage of the program, employers must contact the L&I Collections, Education and Outreach Unit and apply. You can reach this unit via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-301-1826.
The impact of the extension on the L&I Accident Fund
The 90-day deferment option seems like a reasonable way for L&I to help employers. After all, many employers are experiencing significant financial impact due to COVID-19. Moreover, L&I’s actions will help maintain sufficient level of funding for the L&I Accident Fund. And yet, it’s critical that we monitor the financial health of the fund. The L&I Accident Fund is the safety net for work injury victims. Despite the economic impacts of the pandemic, we must ensure that the Accident Fund remains stable and intact.