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Hiring in Seattle


Things you need to know about Hiring in Seattle

Finding the right people for your business can be quite the daunting task. Whether you run into problems regarding lack of education, experience or a generally bad working attitude – hiring someone to work for you and to help grow your business can seem nearly impossible.

There also used to be a gazillion forms and paperwork that you would need to file if you wanted to hire someone, luckily, the Washington State Business Licensing Service has streamlined the process and created the Business License Application for more efficient submission, filing and quicker action.

Q: Who can be considered an employee?

According the BLS, an employee is someone subject to your control. Control exists when the employer determines the employees’ work schedule, hours, and job responsibilities.

There are different types of employees:

  • Adults
  • Employees under age 18
  • Employees working in Washington for an out-of-state business with no Washington location
  • People that work in or around your home

If you’re registering a new business and hiring employees, you must indicate this on your initial Business License Application.

Q: Who can be considered an independent contractor?

Independent contractors aren’t considered employees. They:

  • Engage in their (own) independent occupation or business.
  • Are registered or licensed with the appropriate state and federal agencies.
  • Usually advertise their services and have a significant investment in their business.
  • Keep business records and file taxes as a business.
  • You can expect an independent contractor to provide everything necessary to complete their job.

If you’re hiring independent contractors, don’t list them as employees on your Business License Application.

Q: How do I register to become an employer?

Basically, whether you’re starting a new business or expanding an already established business – the first step you need to take is to fill out a Business License Application (BLA). The BLA is the same form that you will fill out when you register your business with the Department of Revenue and other business regulatory agencies.

Q: I already have an established business and I have registered using the BLA before. If I want to add more employees, do I need to re-file?

Take note that if you are already registered as an employer, you don’t need to re-file to take on new employees at the same business location you have previously registered. However, you will need to report every additional employee to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. [Source:]

Q: How will filing the BLA benefit my business?

Once you fill out the BLA, you will immediately get registered as an employer and your employees will be able to avail of benefits such as industrial insurance and become registered for unemployment insurance.

After you submit your application, the Department of Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department will then send you information about employee quarterly report forms and other information regarding your status as a licensed employer.

Q: What is Industrial Insurance? [Source:]

According the BLS website, Industrial Insurance or Worker’s Compensation covers insurance “…for work related injuries and illnesses, pays for approved medical, hospital and related services essential to an injured worker’s treatment and recovery. It also provides partial wage replacement for injured workers who are temporarily unable to work. “

Basically, it ensures that your workers are taken care of when they run into work related injuries. Whether they require medical treatment because of it or need to take some time off, having an injury won’t mean that they get tossed out into the street because they can’t work at the moment.

Q: How does Industrial Insurance protect the employer?

Ok, so the industrial insurance sounds like a good deal for the employee who gets injured… but what about the employer? What do you get out of it?

Since all employers, save those who are exempted, mandated by Washington State law to procure industrial insurance for their employees, the benefit for the employer is that they “…ordinarily cannot be sued for damages if a work-related injury or illness occurs.”

Q: What are the types of employment exempt from having to avail of industrial insurance?

According to the BLS website, the following types of employment are exempt from having to get industrial insurance:

  • Sole proprietors, partners, or LLC members with management responsibility.
  • Corporate officers who are directors and shareholders. If you select elective coverage for your executive officers, all executive officers must be covered.
  • Domestic servants in a private home if less than 2 employed, and those performing gardening, maintenance, or repair around the home.
  • Persons who provide services in return for aid or sustenance received from a religious or charitable organization.
  • Minors under [the age of] 18 employed on the family farm.
  • Racing jockeys.
  • Entertainers and musicians.
  • Volunteer law enforcement officers.
  • Volunteers for private non-profit charitable organizations or local government.
  • Student volunteers (K-12).
  • Community service workers.
  • Cosmetologist, barbers, estheticians, or manicurists who lease stations.
  • Newspaper carriers.
  • Insurance agents, brokers and solicitors.
  • Other employment as defined byRCW 51.12.020.



Q: I don’t want to avail of industrial insurance. What are my options?


Self-insurance is an alternative to industrial insurance in which the employer is responsible for paying all appropriate benefits to the injured worker. The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) oversees the program to ensure employers provide benefits properly. You may qualify for self-insurance if your business:

  • Is profitable and can post a bond guaranteeing the financial resources to pay all insurance costs.
  • and
  • Has an effective accident prevention program.


Q: What is Unemployment Insurance?

Regulated by the Employment Security Department, it protects the employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It goes to the State who then distributes a stipend to qualified people who claim unemployment.

Unemployment insurance is required if your business employs one or more persons. Officers of for-profit corporations are also covered unless their employer specifically exempts them. This is done through submitting an exemption request form to the Employment Security Department.


Q: What are the steps involved in hiring a minor?

According to the website of the Department of Labor and Industries, any potential employer must obtain a Minor Work Permit endorsement through the Business License Application prior to hiring a minor.  [Source:]

  1. First, you, as the potential employer must pay a visit to the Department of Revenue – Business Licensing Service Web site or any L&I office. You must then post the Master Business License with current minor work permit endorsement. This is to be renewed annually.


  1. Obtain a Parent/School Authorization Form (F700-002-000). Before employing a minor, you must have the minor’s parent or legal guardian and the school ([if] during the school year) complete the Parent/School Authorization form and keep it in your files.


This form is sent to employers with the renewal of the minor work permit, or they can obtain it from L&I. They must keep the completed form on file. It must be renewed annually. When school is not in session, a school signature is not required.


  1. Obtain proof of minor’s age. You must keep proof of age on file. Examples include a copy of a birth certificate or driver’s license, or a witnessed statement of the parent or legal guardian.


  1. Keep employment records for 3 years after you hire a minor. You must keep information such as employee name, address, occupation, dates of employment, rate(s) of pay, amount paid each pay period and the hours worked. These records must be available to the employee on request at any reasonable time.

If you plan to hire employees under 16, contact the Department of Labor and Industries for additional requirements. [Source:]

Q: I need more help!

If you’re having a difficult time understanding how to hire people in Seattle, you can refer to the government agencies we have mentioned above and in our other articles.

The Department of Labor and Industries, for example, offers various classes to help small business owners navigate the hiring process and other business potholes.

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