WA State Licensing: Hire employees

Hire employees

Before you hire

  • If you’re starting a new business, you must submit a Business License Application to register as an employer before you can hire employees.
  • If you have an established business and are planning to hire employees (including minors and workers in the home), you must file a Business License Application again before you hire.

NOTE: You must report your newly hired employees to the Dept of Social and Health Services within 20 days of hire. You can report online at https://secure.dshs.wa.gov/dcsonline.

How to file a Business License Application

When you fill out the Business License Application, select “Hire Employees” or “Hire Employees under 18” under Purpose of Application. You must plan to hire employees within 90 days of submitting your Business License Application.

There are three ways to submit a Business License Application:

  • File a Business License Application online and pay with E-check or a MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express credit or debit card (gift cards cannot be used). Note: The credit/debit card option is provided to you by a private, non-state vendor that will impose a 2.5% convenience fee for the service. Filing online isn’t recommended for some businesses.
  • File by mail. Send a completed Business License Application form and the $19 non-refundable processing fee (check or money order payable to “Department of Revenue”) to:
    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034
  • File in person at a business licensing office.

For more information about filing your application, see File a Business License Application.

Workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance

All businesses hiring employees are required to register for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

By completing the Business License Application, you’ll be registered for workers’ compensation at the Department of Labor and Industries and unemployment insurance at the Employment Security Department.

After filing your application, the Department of Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department will send you information about employee quarterly report forms.

Frequently asked questions

Who is an employee?

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’ll be hiring employees, you must indicate this on your Business License Application.

Who is 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.

Are there any special requirements for hiring a minor or employee under 18?

  • If you plan to hire employees who are under 18, you must also file for a permit to employ minors. Use the Business License Application to apply for a Minor Work Permit.
  • If you plan to hire employees under 16, contact the Department of Labor and Industries for additional requirements.