Washington state’s remote work rule will be in effect in less than one month—Feb. 17, the same date the temporary guidance expires.
The rule was unanimously approved by the Washington State Collection Agency Board Jan. 12.
The permanent rule is expected to greatly expand options for the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry and set a precedent for other states to follow suit.
Other industries and businesses can work remotely in Washington and the rule for the ARM industry was developed to ensure consistency across those sectors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a notice on the final rule.
“It is necessary to offer licensees the option to remotely work to support the return of commerce in all business sectors. This would allow them to continue to offer the public their necessary services,” the notice states. “This also outlines the detailed and necessary security measures and data storage requirements and detailed definitions and requirements of the remote work.”
The temporary rule, created in response to COVID-19, has been in place since June 2020, ACA International previously reported.
The permanent rule will allow licensed agencies to continue to offer the public their necessary services if the required security measures and data storage requirements and detailed definitions and requirements of remote work are in place, according to the Washington State Department of Licensing.
This rule has been at the heart of advocacy efforts for ACA in Washington. ACA’s Vice President of State Unit and Government Affairs Andrew Madden and ACA member Kevin Underwood, attorney with Linebarger Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP, serve among six subject matter experts on the CAB Rule Committee. The committee also includes two CAB members, including ACA member Mark Case, general counsel for Receivables Performance Management LLC.
Before the vote on the final rule Jan. 12, the board considered a motion on changing the word “debt” to “claims” in the definition of collection activities in the rule, which was denied in a 3-2 vote. The board instead unanimously voted to remove the phrase from the rule altogether to keep the focus on guidelines for employees of collection agencies to work remotely. The approved version states:
“‘Collection activities’ as used in this section means those activities performed by collection agencies or the employees of collection agencies pursuant to chapter 19.16 RCW.”
The rule covers new remote work requirements, including maintaining a list of employees working in a “virtual office,” an equipment list and details of the necessary employee remote work agreement. The agreement must be signed by employees working off-site and outlines data security and call review requirements, specifically “that an employee must be advised that the employee’s collection agency activities are subject to review and calls to and from the virtual office will be monitored and recorded.”
Call recordings must be maintained for at least four years and the rule requires regular call monitoring, a portion of which must be in real time.
Now that the rule is finalized, it will be reviewed on an annual basis.
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