The Jan. 5 hearing will focus on a proposed permanent rule allowing employees of licensed collection agencies to work off site if data security and remote call review measures, among others, are in place.
– The rule could set a precedent for the ARM industry and for other states to follow suit.
– ACA International staff and members have been a part of the rule development process.
– A temporary rule is in place through Feb. 17, 2021.
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The accounts receivable management (ARM) industry has a chance to weigh in on a work-from-home rule by submitting written comments or during a virtual public hearing on Jan. 5, 2021.
The Washington State Department of Licensing sent out the hearing notice Dec. 1 to codify a permanent rule on the option for collection agencies to offer licensees and their employees the ability to work remotely.
The permanent rule would allow licensed agencies to continue to offer the public their necessary services as long as the required security measures and data storage requirements and detailed definitions and requirements of remote work are in place, according to the notice from the Washington State Department of Licensing.
This rule has been at the heart of advocacy efforts for ACA International 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 Washington State Collection Agency Licensing Board (CAB) Rule Committee. The committee also includes two CAB members, including ACA member Mark Case, general counsel for Receivables Performance Management LLC.
The meeting notice adds new remote work requirements and amends definitions in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 308-29-010 of business office, collection activities and employee as follows:
- “Business office” is the licensed principal place of business or certified branch office from which the licensee conducts any activity meeting the criteria of a collection agency or out-of-state collection agency as defined in RCW 19.16.100.
- “Collection activities” as used in this section means those activities performed by collection agencies or the employees of collection agencies, which are associated with collecting or attempting to collect debts pursuant to chapter 19.16 RCW.
- “Employee” is a natural person employed by a licensee and shall not be deemed a "collection agency" or a “branch office” as defined in RCW 19.16.100 (5)(a) so [they] need not have an additional license or certificate to perform collection activities on behalf of the licensee whether working from a business office or from the employee’s virtual office.
- “Remote work” occurs when an employee performs collection activity for a licensee from the employee’s “virtual office” as defined herein and more particularly described in WAC 308-29-085. Work performed by a licensed attorney litigating claims on behalf of a licensee is not remote work subject to WAC 308-29-085.
- “Virtual office,” for purposes of chapters 19.16 and 18.235 RCW and chapter 308-29 WAC, is a virtual extension of the licensee’s business office, which is fully connected via electronic means and telecommunications to the business office and its employees and from which an individual employee may perform the same collection activities and be similarly monitored as if located in the business office and as more particularly described in WAC 308-29-085.
The CAB Rule Committee approved the rule language for the public hearing during a special meeting Nov. 3. The rule could set a precedent for the ARM industry and for other states to follow suit.
The new section of the WAC for consideration at the Jan. 5 meeting 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 offsite 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.”
The department is accepting written comments until Jan. 5, 2021. Submit written comments to:
Department of Licensing
Washington State Board for Architects
PO Box 9020
Olympia, WA 98507-9020
Email: [email protected]
For now, a temporary work-from-home rule for licensees in Washington is in place until Feb. 17, 2021, ACA International previously reported. This temporary rule is intended to allow employees of collection agencies to work remotely, but it does not alter any requirements of the WAC regarding collection activity. While the temporary rule is in place, licensed agencies with employees working remotely should continue to conduct business in a manner consistent with collection agency laws and rules and protect data.
Industry stakeholders on the rule committee are advocating for the permanent remote work rule to focus on issues related only to remote work and to keep requirements such as call recording and monitoring specific to performing collection activities separate.
The rule, once finalized, will be reviewed on an annual basis.