OSHA, wage and hour violation penalties to increase by more than 70%

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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez discusses the final overtime rule at a May 18 press conference in this McKnight's Senior Living file photo.
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez discusses the final overtime rule at a May 18 press conference in this McKnight's Senior Living file photo.

Maximum penalties for Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace safety violations will increase 78% effective Aug. 1 under an interim final rule announced Thursday by the Department of Labor. Wage and Hour Division penalties for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase by more than 70% as well.

The department announced two interim final rules, one of which covers most penalties assessed by OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division, Office of Workers' Compensation programs and other federal agencies. The second one focuses on penalties related to temporary guest worker programs.

OSHA's maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78%. The top penalty for serious violations will increase from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709.

The Wage and Hour Division's penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase from $1,100 to $1,894.

The rules were announced in compliance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act passed by Congress in 2015. Under the act, agencies are required to adjust their penalties each year to reflect inflation and publish “catch-up” rules to compensate for the time since the last adjustment.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide,” Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. “Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don't follow the law.”

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