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Washington L&I proposing nearly 5% increase to workers' comp rates for 2023

The increase would mean employers and employees would jointly pay $61 more per year for each full-time employee.

WASHINGTON, USA — The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has proposed a 4.8% increase to workers' compensation insurance payments for 2023. The increase would mean employers and employees would jointly pay $61 more per year for each full-time employee.

Employers and employees in Washington state pay into the workers' compensation system to help cover the costs of providing disability and wage benefits to injured employees. Rates are determined based on hours worker, not wages. This means when wages increase, the rate paid stays the same, according to L&I.

L&I workers' comp insurance covers 2.6 million employees and 187,000 employers in the state.

Should this proposed increase be approved, workers will continue to pay on average about a quarter of the premium, a similar percentage to that paid in 2022.

"Even with the increase, the average hourly rate businesses will pay will be about the same as what they were paying in 2016,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a statement. “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 workers’ compensation fund."

According to L&I, general wage inflation and increasing medical costs have contributed to the increase in costs to insure a workplace. In 2021 and 2022, L&I helped employers and workers impacted by the pandemic by tapping its contingency reserves to avoid a larger increase in premium rates. This is similar to the approach L&I wants to take in 2023 to prevent a larger rate increase. 

Under the current proposal, L&I will use contingency reserves to cover any gap between premiums and costs to keep rates steady and avoid a larger increase.

Virtual public hearings to receive input on the rate proposal will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 26 and 27. Final rates will be determined on Nov. 30 and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. To participate in the Zoom meeting, click here.

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