Department of Labor Penalty Increases

chef-1245676_640In November of 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, requiring federal agencies to increase their civil penalties to account for inflation. Many agencies had not done so in more than a decade. This initial increase in rates is capped at 150 percent. Going forward, the rates will be adjusted annually based on inflation.

The Department of Labor is among those implementing increases. Penalties assessed by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety Administration, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and the Wage and Hour Division will all be increasing. The new rates will begin to be assessed on August 1, 2016, and are applicable to violations that took place after November 2, 2015.


Notable increases include:
• OSHA penalties for serious violations, other-than-serious violations, posting violations, and failures to abate will increase from $7,000 to $12,471.
• OSHA’s maximum penalties for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709
• Wage and Hour Division penalties for violations of minimum wage and overtime laws will increase from $1,100 to $1,864
• Wage and Hour Division penalties for violations of certain child labor laws will increase from $11,000 to $12,080
• ERISA penalties for failing to file a Form 5500 will increase from $1,100 per day to $2,063 per day.

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