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The inside story

Everything you want to know about your L&I account


June 5, 2014
By Chris Alcatraz

Intrigued? Glad to hear it!

This is the title of just one of the many classes offered at FREE Contractor Training Days scheduled monthly at locations across the state.

Informative? You bet!

Over 25 topics: from starting a business to managing contracts; plumbing code to fall protection.

Useful? Absolutely!

Lots of reference material and in-person Q&A with staff from L&I and the Department of Revenue, volunteers from the legal community and more.

When & where? Next event in Lakewood on June 27.

If you can’t join us in June, we’d love to see you at future events in Yakima, Edmonds, Spokane and Renton. See the complete schedule.

Can’t wait? There’s more!

Check out our website for all the resources we offer business owners: http://www.Lni.wa.gov/main/ForBusiness.asp


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Thinking positive: Pregnancy and your job


June 11, 2014
By Kyra Ingraham

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It’s positive. They are two lines that can change your life. And as thousands of questions race through your mind, one question is likely to be “How will this affect my job?”

Here’s what you need to know about workplace rights for pregnant women:

  1. Can they fire me for being pregnant?
    The simple answer is no. It’s illegal to fire an employee because she’s pregnant. However, if your employer is doing layoffs due to a slow or failing business, your position can be included, regardless of your pregnancy. In addition, you can still be fired or disciplined for performance problems.
     
  2. How much leave can I use, and is it paid?
    Employees are given 12 weeks of leave through the Washington State Family Leave Act (FLA). This law builds on the similar existing federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which also offers 12 weeks of leave. In both laws you have to:
    • Work for a company that has more than 50 employees in a 75 mile radius
      and
    • Have worked for the company for at least 12 months. The months don’t have to be consecutive, but you must have worked at least 1,250 hours before your leave starts.
     
    Washington State Family Leave Act must run after your pregnancy disability has ended (which FMLA doesn’t account for), so depending on your medical needs throughout the pregnancy you may actually be eligible for at least 18 weeks of leave.
     
    It is important to remember, though, that none of the laws require that this leave is paid. Some employers may offer short term disability pay, but for the most part you’re on your own (squirrel it away now!) or you must use some sort of leave to get a paycheck.
     
  3. Is my employer required to hold my job for me?
    Yes and no. The employer is required to allow you to return to work, but they’re not required to hold your exact position open. If they choose not to return you to your exact position, they must then have a similar position for you.
     
  4. Do I have to tell my boss right away?
    Once your pregnancy has an estimated end date (so close but yet so far!), you’re required to give your employer at least 30 days’ notice of when you’ll be starting your leave. If, however, you don’t realize you’re pregnant (hey, there are TV shows on it so it obviously happens), or you’re adopting a child where the placement is less than 30 days, the law simply requires you to tell your boss as soon as possible.
     
  5. How can L&I help me?
    If you feel your rights or benefits have been violated, call L&I at 1-866-219-7321. If it’s a bona fide complaint, L&I will investigate the complaint and, if warranted, issue a citation. You also have the right to sue your employer in a civil court.

For more information visit:


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Avoid booking inflatable flights


June 16, 2014
By Matthew Erlich

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With bounce houses taking flight recently, parents are understandably concerned about how safe their children will be at carnivals and fairs this summer.

There’s an easy way to help ensure your child’s safety on inflatable and carnival rides: See www.Lni.wa.gov/amusementrides. The site includes:

  • A list of certified amusement ride operators in the state.
  • An amusement ride safety checklist so you know what to look for. For example:
    • Making sure the bounce house is securely anchored using steel stakes or sandbags (depending on the ground).
    • Ensuring that a ride operator is present and paying attention.

See something that’s a concern? Talk to the event manager and call L&I at 360-902-5570.


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New web page helps businesses “know what they don’t know”


June 30, 2014
By Amy Ray

An old, unattributed quote says simply, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

But if you’re a business regulated by L&I, what you “don’t know” could get you into trouble. This is particularly true for small businesses, which often don’t have the resources to research L&I requirements that apply to them.

We want it to be easy to do business with L&I, and we don’t want a businesses’ first interaction with the agency to be when they are cited for non-compliance.

That’s the thinking behind a new tool on the L&I website: Check to See If You’re Meeting L&I Business Requirements.

The business requirements page is a one-stop-shop to help businesses discover which requirements apply to them. They can then get the information they need about how to comply without having to search across multiple program areas. An intuitive design makes for an effective Web experience, and we tested the page with small business owners and operators to verify the site was relevant and easy to use before its launch.

Check out the Business Requirements web page today: www.lni.wa.gov/businessrequirements


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Message for young workers: A workplace injury can change your life forever


July 14, 2014
By Xenofon Moniodis

The recent tragic death of a 19-year-old worker, is an important reminder that young workers aged 16-24 are at much higher risk for injuries on the job than older workers.

L&I’s Injured Young Worker Speakers Program focuses on raising workplace safety awareness among young workers to help them avoid these types of injuries. The program brings speakers who were severely injured on the job as young workers to high schools and worksites around the state with the message that a workplace accident can change your life forever.

Speaker Matt Pomerinke of Longview, Washington, was just 21 and working at a paper mill when his arm was caught in an unguarded conveyer drive chain and ultimately amputated just below the elbow. Here’s a glimpse of Matt’s compelling story (includes graphic details).


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Meet L&I at the fair - and fall home shows


September 18, 2014
By Debby Abe


Meet outreach specialists Rebecca Llewellyn (left) and Julie Perales at L&I’s booth at the fair and home shows.

Sometimes there’s no better way to get help than talking face to face.

You’ll get the chance to do just that over the next few weeks.  L&I outreach specialists will be at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup Thursday, Sept. 18, through Saturday, Sept. 20, and at home shows around the state from late September through mid-October to answer your questions about hiring construction contractors. Here’s the list of their fall appearances.

If you’re thinking of tackling a home remodeling project, visit the L&I booth to:

  • Get a free “Hire Smart” worksheet to help you plan your project.
  • Learn how to verify a contractor’s license by using www.Verify.Lni.wa.gov.
  • Find out what a “notice to customer disclosure statement” is. Hint: State law requires contractors to give you one before starting projects worth more than $1,000.

If you can’t make it to the fair or home show, visit www.ProtectMyHome.net for tips about hiring contractors.  And if you don’t have access to the Internet, check to see if a contractor is registered by calling L&I at 1-800-647-0982.

Take advantage of this free advice. It could save you thousands of dollars, countless headaches and a botched remodeling job.


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