ADVOCATE FOR MASSAGE THERAPY AS A RECOGNIZED & RESPECTED HEALTHCARE PROFESSION
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When Governor Inslee ended the COVID state of emergency in Washington State at the close of October 2022, the masking requirement has continued to remain in effect for healthcare providers, to include massage therapists.
The proclamation on masking was issued by the Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Umair Shah, and was amended on 10/27/22 to continue masking requirements for healthcare. Regardless of whether you practice in your home, a private office, a gym, a spa, a hotel or any other environment, when your room is being used for massage, everyone within the room is required to be masked -- yourself, your client and any third party that may be sitting in the room (family member, interpreter, etc). The few exceptions are detailed in the proclamation. To read the Secretary of Health's proclamation on masking for healthcare, click on this link: https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid-19/masks-and-face-coverings. Once you are on the page, just click on the link titled, The "Secretary of Health Mask Order" in the second paragraph to read the actual proclamation, which is a pdf.
Questions? If you, your employer, or landlord have questions about masking and social distancing for health care providers/facilities, please contact: John Stebbins, CSP, CIH -- L&I -- Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) -- (206) 515-2870.
At the top of the Massage Therapist page, is a section called "We Can Help You". Click on the link for "Verify Your License (Provider Credential Search)" which is: https://doh.wa.gov/licenses-permits-and-certificates/provider-credential-search
If you forget when your CE is due, you can use this link to look it up. If you want to check to see if a massage license is active, expired or if there has been some form of enforcement action attached to a healthcare provider's license, you can find it on this website.
Historically, there have been 5 members on the Board of Massage -- 4 licensed massage therapists and 1 public member. The number of members was recently increased by state legislation to include another licensed massage therapist and a massage school educator (potentially a massage school owner or instructor). Meetings are currently held every other month and generally last 3-6 hours.
To read what the Board of Massage does, click on this link: https://doh.wa.gov/licenses-permits-and-certificates/professions-new-renew-or-update/massage-therapist/board-information and then click on the first link, titled again, "Board Information". To read more about the Board of Massage, continue to read through the remaining links.
Update to Substitute Senate Bill 5169 (Billing for PPE)
We first brought you information about your ability to bill for PPE in the spring of 2021. The bill that allowed for this, called out an automatic end point to the ability to bill this code. At this time, the Federal Public Health Emergency has been slated to end on October 13, 2022. So, your ability to bill this code will end on that date.
The bill language can be found here. https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2021-22/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/5169-S.PL.pdf?q=20220927123546
Being pregnant while working generally requires changes to be made around the workplace during the pregnancy. Employers have certain responsibilities to provide reasonable accommodations during pregnancy, so know your rights in the workplace.
The following link will take you to the Washington State Labor & Industries website for more details: https://lni.wa.gov/workers-rights/workplace-policies/pregnancy-accommodations
Many massage businesses require their employees to wear uniforms or uniform shirts. If the uniform meets certain criteria specified by Washington State Labor and Industries (LNI) then the employer is responsible for paying for the uniform. If the the employer requires clothing to match colors within a color code, such as all employees must dress in a black shirt and pants, then the employee is responsible for the expense of the clothing.
For full details about uniforms, please click on the following link: https://lni.wa.gov/workers-rights/workplace-policies/uniforms
This blog is a continuation of our posting, "March 12 Changes to Mask Mandate". For signage and a flyer with details, click on the above link.
The Department of Health (DOH) posted a pdf on their website titled, "Mask/Face Covering Guidance During COVID-19" (click the document title to read the article). This document contains verification that wherever LMTs practice, that is healthcare and masking is required in a healthcare setting.
There are a lot of links in this document from the DOH, the link that describes what qualifies as healthcare can be found at the bottom of the first page -- there are three bullets with the first bullet stating "Healthcare Settings". Click on the link in the first bullet and it will take you to "Appendix A: Glossary" at the top of page 6. If you scroll down, you'll see that massage therapy has a specific listing.
Non-Competition Agreements in the Profession of Massage Therapy
By Annika Samuelsen, LMT
If you are a licensed massage therapist and work as either an employee or independent contractor here in the state of Washington, your employer may have required you to sign a non-competition agreement upon hire. Read on to inform yourself on recent changes to the enforcement of non-competition agreements that might apply to you.
For anyone not familiar with the term, a non-competition agreement (also called “non-compete agreement'') is a contract between an employer and their employee. For massage therapists, this is likely a clause detailed in a subsection of your terms of employment. This type of agreement prohibits an employee from working at or starting a business that is or would be in direct competition with their employer’s business. The agreement may also specify that once employment has been ended, that the employee must not work or start a business within a certain distance of the employer, at least not until a certain amount of time has passed, otherwise they will incur a monetary penalty.
Non-competes are used in many different professions to protect employers from losing business to their current or former employees. Washington legislators who viewed non-competition agreements as prohibitive to economic growth and development proposed bill SB 5478, which was signed into law on May 8th 2019 and went into effect on January 1st 2020. The revised code RCW 42.62.020 details:
"A noncompetition covenant is void and unenforceable against the employee: [...] unless the employee's earnings from the party seeking enforcement, when annualized, exceed one hundred thousand dollars per year."
For independent contractors, annual earnings must be greater than $250,000 per year for the non-compete to be enforceable. Furthermore, these dollar amounts are tied to the rate of inflation, and are therefore adjusted annually.
Note: A contract that prohibits an employee or independent contractor from actively soliciting an employer’s clients to see them at another location of business (i.e. non-solicitation agreements) is a different topic.
What does this mean for licensed massage therapists?
If you signed a non-competition agreement with an employer, whether prior to or after the date this code went into effect, and your earnings are below the enforceable thresholds, your employer can no longer impose restrictions on where you work now or in the future because the contract you signed has become void and unenforceable.
If an employer asks you to sign a non-competition agreement even though your annual earnings are below the enforceable threshold, consider directing them to the revised code and the sources listed below when you are negotiating your terms of employment.
We want our members to be informed about the legislation that protects them so they can be satisfied with their terms of employment. Please let us know if this information has been helpful to you, and if you would like to read more content on employment and workplace rights.
Washington Labor and Industries has a page on non-compete agreements in their section on workplace policies (link).
Chapter 49.62 of the revised code of Washington (RCW) details the information on non-compete agreements (link).
RCW bill history of SB 5478 (link).
This post was updated on 3/11/22. Click on the link for "WSMTA--Masking for LMTs Starting 031222" for new information.
Over the past several weeks, Governor Inslee has announced changes to his August 23, 2021 mask mandate. However, for healthcare providers, there will be no change for us regarding masking. Masking for healthcare is still required in our treatment rooms or clinics. Please click on the following link for a one page summary of what the new masking requirements entail and how this applies to massage therapists. Should you still have questions, at the bottom of the document is the contact information for the L&I contact person to follow up with.
WSMTA--Masking for LMTs Starting 031222
For a sign that can be posted in your massage room or clinic, please click on the following link:
Sign -- Face Masks Still Required
Remembering Deborah Senn:
Washington’s massage therapy community lost a great friend and supporter with the passing of former Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn. A true champion of integrative and consumer-focused health care, Commissioner Senn introduced the "every category of provider" provision to Washington State Insurance Law in the 1990s which granted significant recognition and protection to massage therapists in this state. This provision not only paved the way for inclusion of massage therapists within private and state-run insurance plans, but it also provided the framework used by the federal government in the drafting of the "every category of provider" clause within the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
As a consummate consumer advocate, she transformed the Office of the Insurance Commissioner from insurance company-friendly to a consumer-centric one when she won her first term in 1992, becoming the first woman to serve in that statewide elected position.
She died at Swedish Medical Center on February 18 from complications related to pancreatic cancer. Senn is survived by her husband, Rudi Bertschi, as well as a brother and a sister.
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Advocate for Massage Therapy as a Recognized & Respected Healthcare Profession