American Association of State Compensation insurance Fund
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CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (602) 631-2000
Address: 3030 North Third Street
Phoenix, AZ   85012
Website: www.copperpoint.com

State Compensation Insurance Fund
Phone: 888-STATEFUNDCA
Address: 333 Bush Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA   94104
Website: www.statefundca.com

Pinnacol Assurance
Phone: (303) 361-4000
Address: 7501 East Lowry Boulevard
Suite 800
Denver, CO   80230-7006
Website: www.pinnacol.com

Hawaii Employers' Mutual Insurance Co. Inc.
Phone: (808) 524-3642
Address: 1100 Alakea Street
Suite 1400
Honolulu, HI   96813
Website: www.hemic.com

Idaho State Insurance Fund
Phone: (208) 332-2100
Address: 1215 West State Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID   83720-0044
Website: www.idahosif.org

Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance
Phone: (859) 425-7800
Address: 250 West Main Street Suite 900
P.O. Box 83720
Lexington, KY   40507-1724
Website: www.kemi.com

Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation
Phone: (225) 924-7788
Address: 2237 South Acadian Thruway
P.O. Box 83720
Baton Rouge, LA   70808
Website: www.lwcc.com

Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC)
Phone: (207) 791-3300
Address: 261 Commercial Street
P.O. Box 11409
Portland, ME   04104
Website: www.memic.com

Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Phone: (410) 494-2000
Address: 8722 Loch Raven Boulevard
P.O. Box 11409
Towson, MD   21286-2235
Website: www.ceiwc.com

SFM Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (952) 838-4200
Address: 3500 American Boulevard West Suite 700
P.O. Box 11409
Bloomington, MN   55431-4434
Website: www.sfmic.com

Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance
Phone: (800) 442-0590
Address: 101 N Keene St
P.O. Box 11409
Columbia, MO   65201
Website: www.mem-ins.com

Montana State Fund
Phone: (406) 495-5015
Address: 855 Front Street
P.O. Box 4759
Helena, MT   59604-4759
Website: www.montanastatefund.com

New Mexico Mutual Group
Phone: (505) 345-7260
Address: 3900 Singer Boulevard NE
P.O. Box 4759
Albuquerque, NM   87109
Website: www.newmexicomutual.com

New York State Insurance Fund
Phone: (212) 312-7001
Address: 199 Church Street
P.O. Box 4759
New York, NY   10007
Website: www.nysif.com

Workforce Safety and Insurance
Phone: (701) 328-3800
Address: 1600 East Century Avenue Suite 1
P.O. Box 4759
Bismarck, ND   58506-5585
Website: www.WorkforceSafety.com

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation
Phone: (800) 644-6292
Address: 30 West Spring Street
P.O. Box 4759
Columbus, OH   43215-2256
Website: www.ohiobwc.com

CompSource Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (405) 232-7663
Address: 1901 North Walnut Ave.
P.O. Box 53505
Oklahoma City, OK   73152-3505
Website: www.compsourcemutual.com

State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF)
Phone: (503) 373-8000
Address: 400 High Street SE
P.O. Box 53505
Salem, OR   97312-1000
Website: www.saif.com

Pennsylvania State Workers Insurance Fund
Phone: (570) 963-4635
Address: 100 Lackawanna Avenue
P.O. Box 5100
Scranton, PA   18505-5100
Website: www.dli.state.pa.us/swif

Beacon Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (401) 825-2667
Address: One Beacon Centre
P.O. Box 5100
Warwick, RI   02886-1378
Website: www.beaconmutual.com

South Carolina State Accident Fund
Phone: (803) 896-5800
Address: P.O. Box 102100
P.O. Box 5100
Columbia, SC   29221-5000
Website: www.saf.sc.gov

Texas Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (800) 859-5995
Address: 6210 East Highway 290
P.O. Box 5100
Austin, TX   78723-1098
Website: www.texasmutual.com

Workers Compensation Fund
Phone: (800) 446-2667
Address: 100 West Towne Ridge Parkway
P.O. Box 2227
Sandy, UT   84070
Website: www.wcfgroup.com

Washington Department of Labor and Industries
Phone: (360) 902-5800
Address: P.O. Box 44001
P.O. Box 2227
Olympia, WA   98504-4001
Website: www.lni.wa.gov

Wyoming Division of Workers Safety & Compensation
Phone: (307) 777-7159
Address: Cheyenne Business Center
1510 East Pershing Boulevard
Cheyenne, WY   82002
Website: wydoe.state.wy.us

Workers Compensation Board - Alberta
Phone: (780) 498-3999
Address: 9925-107 Street
P.O. Box 2415
Edmonton, AB   T5J 2S5
Website: www.wcb.ab.ca

Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia (WORKSAFEBC)
Phone: (604) 273-2266
Address: P.O. Box 5350 Station Terminal
P.O. Box 2415
Vancouver, BC   V6B 5L5
Website: www.worksafebc.com

Manitoba Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (204) 954-4321
Address: 333 Broadway
P.O. Box 2415
Winnipeg, MB   R3C 4W3
Website: www.wcb.mb.ca

WorkSafeNB
Phone: (506) 632-2200
Address: 1 Portland Street
P.O. Box 160
Saint John, NB   E2L 3X9
Website: www.worksafenb.ca

Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
Phone: (902) 491-8999
Address: 5668 South Street
P.O. Box 1150
Halifax, NS   B3J 2Y2
Website: www.wcb.ns.ca

Prince Edward Island Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (902) 368-5680
Address: 14 Weymouth Street
P.O. Box 1150
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7L7
Website: www.wcb.pe.ca

Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (306) 787-4370
Address: 200 - 1881 Scarth Street
P.O. Box 1150
Regina, SK   S4P 4L1
Website: www.wcbsask.com

Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund Corporation
Phone: (787) 793-5959
Address: G.P.O. Box 365028
P.O. Box 1150
San Juan, PR   00936-5028
Website: www.cfse.gov.pr
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Latest Newsletter

Who's the Boss? The Gig Economy in Washington State


By Michael Ratko, Deputy Assistant Director, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Similar to other jurisdictions, Washington’s exclusive state fund has historically struggled with an age-old workers’ compensation test: Does an employer/worker relationship exist, or is a worker truly an independent contractor?  The current process to determine coverage is complex and includes multi-part tests, fact-specific work arrangements, and piles of case law. 

Now, introduce employment relationships that exist premised on a digital platform intermediary cloaked in a myriad of business models, and the “independent contractor” question gets even more complicated. Accompanying the complexities is the simple truth that there is, and has been for quite some time, great interest in alternative work arrangements that include the “gig” or “on-demand” economy. This interest seems to be growing.  Firms such as Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit.com, and Thumbtack.com are popping up on desktops and mobile devices everywhere.

The data…
Research in 2010 regarding the alternative, non-traditional employment workforce, conducted by Alan Krueger (Princeton) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard), concluded that the number of workers in alternative work arrangements increased from 10% to 16% of the workforce nationally in just five years. It was further estimated that nearly 600,000 people (.5% of the workforce) were working in the gig economy at that time. Most certainly, this figure has grown.  The research found that the gig economy was expanding into what we have typically considered stable employment industries like manufacturing, health care, and education. In 2005, 12% of those participating in alternative arrangements were men and 8% were women.  By 2010, participation had increased slightly for men (15%) and more than doubled for women (17%).

There’s an app for that…
Workers tout the incredible flexibility of gig opportunities, working when they want and as much as they want just by logging into an app. This infatuation with independence seems blind to the fact that benefits associated with traditional employment (unemployment insurance, social security, health insurance, retirement pensions, and workers’ compensation) are not included. There also seems to be general acceptance within the gig economy of the elimination of traditional worker protections and changing rates of pay without due process. 

While the freedoms of the gig economy may be enjoyed by a growing number of workers, we must remember that companies behind these digital platforms benefit financially by entering into these arrangements. Some data suggests that operators of these digital platforms save 30% on worker-related expenses, including the elimination of benefits and administrative expenses. This marrying of flexibility and what some might consider exploitation allows me to coin a term that may best describe the gig economy—“flexploitation.” 

With regard to workers’ compensation, it seems almost certain that flexploitation will impact other social service systems as gig workers seek financial and medical support for injuries traditionally covered by workers’ compensation funds. Concerns have also been raised about worker safety, consumer protections, and employer liability as the bright line between employer and worker becomes more and more blurred.

The realities in the State of Washington…
The gig economy in Washington has set the stage for a steady effort by strategic entrepreneurs to simply advocate for exemptions of certain employments from workers’ compensation coverage, including business models using a digital platform. For example, what started as an attempt to exempt the taxi industry from coverage, based on the traditional model of a central dispatcher, transformed into a multi-year effort between major industry players and the state that created mandatory coverage for taxi drivers in 2012. Then, in 2015, with the take-up of digital platforms, successful legislation exempted all for-hire vehicles from coverage, including taxis and companies such as Uber. This removed protections for more than 2,000 previously covered workers. 

More recently, the construction and parcel delivery industries have aggressively attempted to align their business models with a digital platform to eliminate the employer/worker relationship and void workers’ compensation coverage requirements for more than 20,000 currently covered workers. While these efforts have not gained serious traction, there is no doubt the conversation will continue and evolve into more industries.

The future…
To be clear, and to demonstrate a bit of balance, I applaud the ingenuity of the business community and their interest in reducing overhead by offering a work environment desired by a growing segment of workers. I urge us as insurers and policymakers to find thoughtful solutions to meet the interests of both employers and workers with some guardrails that do not promote broad erosion of the many worker protections and benefits that come with traditional employment.  The gig economy will likely continue to expand; we need to be responsive but careful as we enter into uncharted territories that are already beginning to change our employment and economic landscapes.

I’ll wrap up by formally adding the gig economy to my ever-growing list of items I’d like to “blame on the internet.”

 

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