Business & Workers Newsletter

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          December 9th, 2021

What you should know about...


COVID-19 boosters are essential for protection as omicron variant spreads

The emergence of the omicron variant in Washington emphasizes the importance of vaccination and booster doses for everyone eligible.  Visit Vaccine Locator to make an appointment today. 

Department of Health launches the new digital verification system

As the need for COVID-19 vaccine verification increases across the state, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) wants to ensure people are prepared and know how to prove their vaccination status when it is required. Vaccine verification options now include QR code functionality through WA Verify, the state's new Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record system.

King County Local Health Order implemented October 25

In King County, proof of vaccination is required for everyone ages 12+ outdoor events of 500 or more people, indoor recreational events or establishments, restaurants (excluding outdoor dining & take-out), and bars. 

Acceptable types of documentation include:

  • CDC vaccine card or photo of vaccine card.
  • Documented proof of vaccination from medical records or vaccine provider.
  • Proof of vaccination from another state or county.
  • Printed certificate or digital record from or other apps.


State's STEP funding helps businesses access international markets

A new round of funding from the SBA makes up to $10,000 available to qualifying Washington State businesses who want to explore new markets, attend international trade shows, optimize their websites and search engine strategy for trade, ship samples to prospective clients, and other eligible expenses. For more information, please visit our website or contact Nicole Gunkel at Funds can also be used to offset the cost of being part of the state's trade delegation to international trade shows.

Small business loans available through Commerce

The pandemic has impacted our communities, but it has been especially hard on Washington's smallest businesses and nonprofits. Supported by the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Small Business Flex Fund is designed to help small business owners and nonprofits access funds at a competitive interest rate so they can bounce back stronger than ever. With the Small Business Flex Fund, you'll experience low-interest rates, longer payback timelines, and community-based lenders with decades of experience helping Washington's small businesses and nonprofits thrive.

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) deadline approaching

In September, the SBA announced significant enhancements to the COVID-19 EIDL program to better serve small business owners.

Key changes include:

  • Increased COVID EIDL Cap. The SBA lifted the COVID EIDL cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for ordinary operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying off debt.
  • Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period. The SBA will ensure small business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry about making ends meet.
  • Establishment of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window. The SBA implemented a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 began after the 30 days.
  • Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds. COVID EIDL funds are now eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.

The SBA will accept and review applications received on or before December 31, 2021.  To apply, visit the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  Contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 833-853-5638 or find local assistance.


Wage, Overtime, and Salary Changes for 2022

Minimum wage will be $14.49 per hour in 2022 (up from $13.69). Workers who are 14 or 15 years old may be paid 85% of the adult minimum wage, or $12.32 per hour. 

The minimum salary for executive, administrative, and professional employees and computer professionals and outside salespeople to be considered exempt from overtime will be $1,014.30 per week (or $52,743.60 per year). Additionally, positions must meet other requirements to be exempt (see Changes to Overtime Rules ( ).

New overtime pay requirements go into effect for agricultural workers. They must be paid at least time and a half for all hours over 55 in a workweek in 2022. Dairy workers continue to be eligible for overtime after 40 hours of work per week.

What to do if an employee test positive for COVID-19

If two or more employees develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within 14 days, Washington State requires businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations to self-report this information to the Department of Health.  For questions, contact the COVID hotline at 800-525-0127 or contact your local health department for assistance.

WA Cares Fund premium collection begins January 1, 2022

Beginning next month, you must collect WA Cares premiums from your employees' wages and report their wages and hours at the end of each quarter—the same way you do now for Paid Family Medical Leave. As an employer, you won't pay any share of WA Cares premiums for your employees.

Some employees may choose to apply for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. It's their responsibility to apply and—if approved—to notify and give you a copy of their approval letter from ESD. Once approved, exemptions are permanent, and employees can never opt back in.

Employees are encouraged to attend live webinars to learn more about what benefits are available or check out the informational flyer for more information about the program.

ESD - Tax rate notices mailed by December 29

Employers will receive tax rate notices from the state Employment Security Department for 2022 in late December.  All tax rate notices will be dated December 29, but employers could receive them earlier.  Legislative requirements, such as changes to tax rate calculations and other considerations, affect sending out tax rate notices.  For tax rate information, go here.

Do you know any business owners affected by flooding?

Employment Security's SharedWork Program might be able to help some of them. The program gives them a way to keep their workforce intact and reduce their payroll costs during the crisis. Please pass on the link to employers in your networks. SharedWork could make all the difference for these business owners and their employees.

L&I Adopts Small Increase in Workers Comp Rates for 2022

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has approved a slight increase in the average price employers, and workers pay for workers' compensation insurance next year. It's the first time in 5 years that workers' compensation rates have gone up, but on average, premiums in 2022 would still be less than in 2017—review FAQs about the 2022 rates here.

New Hire Reporting Requirements 

Washington employers are required by law (RCW 26.23.040) to report all new employees within 20 days of hire. This also applies to rehired employees if they haven't worked for the company in the past 60 days.

The "date of hire" is the date the employee first performed services for pay or the date on which the former employee returned to perform services for compensation.

As such, employers need to report each newly hired and rehired employee through the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Child Support's New Hire Reporting Program


Do emergency financial assistance grants qualify for a tax exemption? 

Certain financial assistance is exempt from tax in Washington.  Businesses who receive emergency financial assistance grants do not need to report or pay business and occupation (B&O) tax on the grants described below:

 What are the requirements for the exemptions?

  • The official proclamation of either:
  • National emergency by the President of the United States.
  • State of emergency by the Governor of Washington.
  • Assistance is provided by a federal, tribal, state, or local government entity.
  • Grant was established to address the impacts of the declared emergency.

What types of assistance qualify for a tax exemption? 

  • Grants received directly from a government entity.
  • Grants received through a non-governmental entity authorized by a governmental entity to distribute funds.
  • Debt relief received from a private entity that has received a direct financial benefit, including receiving funds, from a governmental entity for this purpose.

What types of income do not qualify for exemption? 

  • Amounts received under a procurement contract for providing specific goods or services.
  • Amounts received for manufacturing, extracting, or selling products on a per-item basis.
  • Amounts received based on the quantity, volume, or weight of products sold or transported.
  • Amounts received from production subsidies.

For information about the taxability of grant income for other purposes, please see the Department of Revenue, Tax Topics article titled Grant income.


What you need to know about the new Nonprofit Corporation Act

Effective January 1, 2022, the new act is an entire replacement for the current Washington Nonprofit Act, RCW 24.03.  Review the changes and updates summarized by the Washington State Bar Association here.

The Secretary of State's  Nonprofit & Charities Program is here to help with any questions you might have about the new requirements and how they may affect your organization.


New business growth classes start January 12

Are you interested in helping your business grow exponentially? Small businesses that enroll in ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition will learn to improve their strategic thinking and decision-making, create operational efficiencies, strengthen the bottom line and master new financial and marketing skills.

ScaleUp is free to Washington State businesses. The eight-week-long program (about 90 minutes a week) provides a hybrid of virtual live instruction, self-paced modules, a workbook, and an optional study hall to troubleshoot specific problems in your business. Morning and evening classes will begin on January 12th & 13thRegister Now!

Grow Your Business – free January 12 webinar

Grow Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for established businesses actively seeking opportunities to grow their business from beyond its current model – new markets, new products, new locations, new staffing, and new financing. Its focus is on government-supported opportunities, assistance, and the regulatory impacts of growth to factor in your planning. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. The next webinar is scheduled for July 14 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online

Start Your Business – free January 18 webinar

Start Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for aspiring entrepreneurs or newly-started businesses to gain valuable information about business registration and licensing, other regulatory requirements, and resources for further assistance. The next webinar is scheduled for August 10 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online

Free Video Webinars – Anytime!

Visit to view pre-recorded videos of our "Start Your Business" and "Grow Your Business" webinars. These videos are approximately 1 hour long and will provide you with valuable regulatory information about starting and growing a business in Washington state. Visit our Small Business Requirements and Resources webpage to learn more and view these videos anytime.

More Happening Soon!  Upcoming Training & Workshops:

Washington Center for Women in Business: Click here to view all events.

December 10, 2021, Tax Essentials for New & Existing Business Owners

December 13, 2021, QuickBooks Online Basics You Need to Know


Office of Minority & Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE): Click here to view all events.

December 17, 2021, How to do business in the City of Seattle

December 22, 2021, Small Business Resources for Preparedness, Relief, Recovery & Resiliency

December 23, 2021, Women-Owned Small Business Certification Eligibility & Application Process


Department of Revenue: Click here to view all educational resources

December 14, 2021, Construction Industry Tax Guidance

December 15, 2021, Business Tax Basics

Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC): Business Training

Small Business Administration (SBA): Business Learning Platform

SCORE: Find a workshop near you


Governor's Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance

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