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AGO 1950 No. 321 - August 15, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

WHETHER "WAGE SCHEDULES" CAN BE CONSIDERED "OTHER RECORDS" WHICH MAY BE DESTROYED AFTER THREE YEARS, OR DOES THE SIX-YEAR PERIODAPPLY?

"Wage schedules" may not be considered "other records" but are a compilation or continuation of the quarterly contribution reports in summary form of the total wages paid to an employee during the calendar year, and may not be destroyed until after the expiration of the six-year period.

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                                                                 August 15, 1950

Honorable J. H. Robertson, Commissioner
Employment Security Department
State of Washington
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                       Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 321

Dear Mr. Robertson:

            We quote from your letter of July 21, 1950, wherein you request the opinion of this office:

            "The question is whether 'wage schedules' may be considered 'other records' which may be destroyed at the expiration of three years, or whether they are in the same category as employer liability forms and contribution reports, which may not be destroyed until after the expiration of six years."

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            "Wage schedules" are wage reports required by Regulation 3 to be filed on the last day of the month following the expiration of each calendar year, which may not be destroyed until after the expiration of six years.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 53, Chapter 35, Laws of 1945, as amended by Section 11, Chapter 215, Laws of 1947 (Rem. Supp. 1945, § 9998-191) provides as follows:

            "Destruction of Office Records.  The Commissioner may destroy any form, claim, ledger, check, letter, or other record of the Employment Security Department at the expiration of three years after such record was originated by or filed with the Employment Security Department, except that warrants and claims, claim determinations, employer liability forms and contribution reports may be destroyed at the expiration of six years after such form is originated by or filed with the Employment Security Department, and except that this section shall not apply to records pertaining to grants, accounts or expenditures for administration, records of the Unemployment Compensation Fund and the Unemployment Compensation Administration Fund."

            The terms "wage schedules" and "wage reports" are synonymous terms, and while neither is specifically mentioned in the above quoted statute, we must first determine under what authority such records are required.

            Section 40 of the Unemployment Compensation Act, Rem. Supp. 1947, § 9998-178, provides in part as follows:

            "It shall be the duty of the Commissioner to administer this Act.  He shall have the power and authority to adopt, amend, or rescind such rules and regulations, * * * as he deems necessary or suitable to that end.  * * *."

            By virtue of that authority, the Commissioner has prescribed by Sub‑division 2 of Regulation 3 the following:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "2. Contribution and Wage Reports:

            (a) Contribution Report.  Each employer shall not later than the last day of the month following the expiration of any calendar quarter file with the Commissioner, on forms which the Commissioner shall furnish, a report with respect to such quarter setting forth the wages paid for employment to individuals in his employ.  Calendar quarters shall be deemed to end March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 respectively of each year.

            (b) Wage Report.  Each employer shall not later than the last day of the month following the expiration of each such calendar year file with the Commissioner, on forms which the Commissioner shall furnish, a report with respect to such calendar year setting forth the wages paid during such calendar year for employment to individuals in his employ, the names of such individuals, and their social security account numbers.  * * *."

            It is the general rule that properly promulgated administrative regulations have the same force and effect of a law or statute of a state, of which the courts will take judicial notice, 42 Am.Jur., Public Administrative Law, Section 102;Brooks v. Seattle, 193 Wash. 253.

            The contribution reports required to be filed shows the number of individuals employed in each month of a quarterly period, the total wages paid and the amount of contributions due.

            The wage reports required to be filed at the end of the calendar year shows the name, social security number and amount of wages paid during the calendar year up to $3,000, which total amounts must coincide with the quarterly reports, and, therefore, are merely supplemental to the contribution reports which places them in the same category as those records which may not be destroyed until after the expiration of six years.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            In answer to your question whether "wage schedules" may be considered as "other records" which may be destroyed after the expiration of three years, the answer is no.  In order to place the proper construction upon the statute and regulation under consideration, effect must be given to the purpose and intent of the enactment.

            The purpose and intent of Regulation 3, Sub‑division 2 (b), was to make available to the Department necessary information to determine whether an individual filing a claim for benefits had sufficient wage credits in his base year to entitle him to potential benefits.  In the absence of such records, this information would not be readily available.

            It is therefore the opinion of this office that "wage schedules" may not be considered as "other records" and subject to destruction after the three‑year period, but are a supplemental part of the contribution reports and may not be destroyed until after the expiration of six years.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

BERNARD A. JOHNSON
Assistant Attorney General

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