[LNI-RETRO-NEWS] *UPDATED Implementing legislation for penalty increases for violations of workers’ compensation laws effective July 1, 2023

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washington state department of labor and industries - claims and insurance


In 2020, the Legislature enacted a law increasing the statutory penalties for violations of workers’ compensation laws and providing for periodic adjustments for inflation. Prior to the 2020 law, most of the penalty amounts had not increased since the 1980s. Under new RCW 51.48.095, penalties with set dollar amounts are to be adjusted for inflation every three years. The first change begins on July 1, 2023.

The anticipated adjustment is 16.1%. This means that for a penalty of $1000, a 16.1% increase is $161.  L&I will send notice of the final adjusted penalty amounts and update penalty information on the L&I website in June 2023.

The law provides for increasing penalties by comparing the annual changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in the Seattle, Washington area over the three-year period prior to the adjustment. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles the CPI-W data. The first change that occurs on July 1, 2023 will be based on the change in the annual CPI-W in the Seattle area in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

In addition, during the last quarter of the year preceding the adjustment, L&I is directed to calculate an anticipated adjustment and gather stakeholder comment.

To calculate the anticipated adjustment, L&I used the annual CPI-W for the Seattle area for 2020, 2021 and the CPI-W for the Seattle area from January 2022 through October 2022. The information below lists all the penalties that will have an inflationary adjustment, along with the current penalty amount and the anticipated adjustment based on the CPI-W change from 2020 through October 2022.

Send comments on the adjustment to 3YrPenaltyUpdate@lni.wa.gov.  L&I will review any comments submitted. However, the law does not give L&I any discretion over automatic inflationary adjustment of penalties.




Current Penalty Amount

Anticipated Adjusted Penalty based CPI-W from 2020 through October 2022

Additional information

Failure to register (RCW 51.48.010 )


This penalty applies to businesses that do not open a workers’ compensation account prior to operating with covered workers.

The greater of:

·   $1,000; or

·   2 times the premiums owed for 4 quarters before obtaining coverage.


For more information on the requirement to open a workers’ compensation account, see rules under chapter WAC 296-17 and information on L&I website.

Self-Insurer delaying or refusing to pay benefits (RCW 51.48.017)

This penalty applies to a self-insurer’s delay or refusal to pay benefits.


The greater of:

·   $1,000; or

·   25% of the amount due or each underpayment.



Stop work order

(RCW 51.48.022)

This penalty applies to businesses that violate a stop work order issued by L&I for failure to obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

$1,000 for each day not in compliance



Failure to keep records

(RCW 51.48.030)

This penalty applies to businesses that fail to keep the required records for their covered workers. 

The greater of:

·   $500; or

·   2 times the quarterly premium.


For more information on required records, see WAC 296-17-35201 and information on the L&I website.

Refusal to allow inspection of records (RCW 51.48.040)

This penalty applies to businesses that don’t allow L&I to inspect their books and records or refuse to submit their books and records for inspection.





Physician or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) requirements to file accident reports and assist injured workers

(RCW 51.48.060)

This penalty is for physicians or ARNPs who are the first provider to diagnose a worker for an occupational injury or illness and fail to timely file an accident report with L&I or who fail or refuse to render all necessary assistance to the injured worker.



Provider resources and information can be found on the L&I website.


Compliance with Title 51 RCW and L&I rules (RCW 51.48.080)

This penalty applies to a person or business that fails to comply with workers’ compensation requirements under Title 51 RCW or L&I rules.




Willfully obtaining erroneous payments

(RCW 51.48.250)

This penalty applies to any person, business, or other entity who willfully obtains or attempts to obtain erroneous payment or benefits. 

The greater of:

·   $1,000; or

·   3 times the amount of the excess benefit or payments.




Washington State Department of Labor & Industries 
Retrospective Rating Program 
PO Box 44180 
Olympia, WA  98504-4180 US 
360-902-4851  voice 
360-902-4258  fax