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AGLO 1976 No. 65 - November 02, 1976
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTRICIANS ‑- LICENSES ‑- EMPLOYEES ‑- INSTALLATION WORK

Employees of a given employer who do not hold an electrician's certificate of competency as provided for in chapter 18.37 RCW may perform electrical work on the premises of their employers.

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                                                                November 2, 1976

Honorable John D. Jones
State Senator, 48th District
18 Bridlewood Circle
Kirkland, Washington 98033                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1976 No. 65

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested our opinion on two related questions involving electrical work as regulated by the provisions of chapter 18.37 RCW.  We have paraphrased those questions as follows:

            (1) May regularly employed employees who do not hold an electrician's "certificate of competency" as provided for in chapter 18.37 RCW perform electrical work on the premises of their employer; and

            (2) If so, what electrical installation work may be performed by such employees?

            We answer question (1) in the affirmative and question (2) as set forth below.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 18.37 RCW relates to the licensing of persons to engage in the trade or business of an electrician.1/   The first section thereof to be noted is RCW 18.37.020(1) which provides that:

            "No person shall engage in the business or trade as a journeyman electrician or specialty electrician without having a current certificate of competency issued by the department2/ in accordance with the provisions of this chapter."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The business or trade of electrician is then described in RCW 18.37.020(2) as follows:

            "The business or trade of electrician, as herein used, shall encompass all acts involving installation or maintenance of the distribution of electricity, except as is hereinafter specifically excluded."

            "Journeyman electrician" is defined in RCW 18.37.010(4) to mean

            ". . . any person who has been issued a certificate of competency by the department of labor and industries as provided in this chapter for the installation of electrical equipment for light, heat, or power."

            Likewise, RCW 18.37.010(5) provides that:

            "'Specialty electrician' means anyone who has been issued a specialty certificate of competency by the department of labor and industries."

            There are, however, also several exemptions from the requirements of chapter 18.37 RCW.  They are provided in RCW 18.37.140 which, insofar as it pertains to your questions, reads as follows:

            ". . .  The licensing provisions of this chapter [18.37 RCW] shall not apply to persons making electrical installations on their own property or to regularly employed employees working on the premises of their employer: . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In general, licensing provisions create conditions to the exercise of some privilege, business, or vocation.  The license grants leave to do a thing that the licensee would not be entitled to do without the license.  51 Am.Jur.2d,Licenses and Limits, § 1.  The licensing provisions of chapter 18.37 RCW are those which establish the requirement of a certificate of competency, regulate the manner in which the certificate may be obtained, and prescribe the nature of work authorized by the certificate.  Therefore, in view of the provision that the "licensing provisions of this chapter shall not apply . . . to regularly employed employees working on the premises of their employer" our response to your first question is that regularly employed  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] employees may perform electrical work on their employers' premises without an electrician's "certificate of competency."

            With regard to the kind of electrical work which may thus be done (i.e., your second question) the answer, seemingly, is any kind.  There simply is no restriction in chapter 18.37 RCW upon the kind of electrical work that may be performed by those individuals to whom the provisions requiring a license do not apply.

            We therefore conclude that as long as the electrical work is being done on the employer's premises by the employer's regularly employed employee, the provisions of chapter 18.37 RCW are not intended to limit the scope of electrical work which may be performed by such employee.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

VIRGINIA O. BINNS
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Licensing of electrical contractors, on the other hand, is the subject of chapter 19.28 RCW.

2/I.e., the department of labor and industries pursuant to RCW 18.37.010(2).

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