Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries Issues Updated SIF-2 Forms and Addendum to Prior SIF-2 Forms for Use by June 30, 2021
While most of the focus in workers’ compensation’s recent legislative developments and changes are focused on those brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is important not to overlook other changes and updates from pre-2020 legislation. It may seem a bit surreal to think back to pre-pandemic life, but items such as Substitute House Bill 1909 carry a pricey consequence if recent substantial changes to RCW 51.28.070 are overlooked.
In 2019, the legislature passed and Governor Jay Inslee signed SHB 1909. This bill amended RCW 51.28.070 to add a $1,000 penalty per violation when an employer or its duly authorized representative discloses of a worker’s mental health condition or treatment without authorization. The Department of Labor & Industries is required to investigate complaints alleging an unauthorized disclosure of claim file information that violates this provision and to provide notice of any penalty it assesses for a violation. Employers can protest or appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals any penalty assessed under RCW 51.28.070. SHB 1909 also required the Department to notify both employers and workers of their rights and responsibilities regarding disclosure of mental health condition(s) or treatment. This notification is to occur when the Department issues allowance orders.
On May 18, 2021, the Department notified self-employers of updates to the Self-Insured Accident Report Form (SIF-2) to reflect the changes to RCW 51.28.070. These changes are intended to address a resulting gap in notifying employers and workers of their rights and responsibilities regarding mental health information that was created when notices were only sent with allowance orders. While RCW 51.28.070 requires these notices when allowance orders are issued, this meant these notices were not sent for non-compensable claims. As non-compensable claims may also contain mental health information, the new updates to the SIF-2 form are designed to address this gap and provide the statutorily required notification to all employers and workers regardless of whether a claim is allowed or deemed non-compensable.
In light of these immediate changes, self-insured employers are afforded two options to comply with the new SIF-2 form requirements. The first is to continue using SIF-2 forms the self-insured employer already has available and include this addendum or something substantially similar as defined by WAC 296-15-001 (i.e., the document’s text has not been altered or deleted; the text is approximately the same size with the same emphasis (bolding, italics, underlining, etc.); and is approximately in the same location on the page as the Department’s document). This allows employers to utilize SIF-2 forms already on hand rather than immediately throwing them away or otherwise discarding them.
Alternatively, self-insured employers can order and use the new SIF-2 forms here. If an employer chooses to order new forms, there is currently a limit of 400 forms per order with no more than one order per week through the end of June 2021. After June 30, 2021, the Department will continue limiting orders to 1,000 forms per order. The Department also asks that employers destroy any existing form supplies when it receives the new SIF-2 forms.
Please note that the Department is requiring employers to use either option (the old SIF-2 form plus an addendum handout or the new SIF-2 form) by June 30, 2021.
The past year has been trying to say the least and keeping track of all the legislative changes implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic whether they originated before or after 2020 can be difficult. Fortunately, the lawyers at SBH Legal dutifully keep track of legislative changes as they are occurring and as they are implemented to keep employers updated and informed. If you have any questions about this new SIF-2 form and what employers can do to protect themselves from the hefty penalty RCW 51.28.070 creates for unauthorized disclosure of mental health information, please contact me at or 503-412-3117.
Posted by Christine Olson.