Apparently inflation has happened over the past 27 years! However, OSHA has not kept up with the rise, but then neither did Social Security!
The Congress has passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Inflation Adjustment Act). This is part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and it was done because in 1990 when the Congress passed these rules OSHA was exempted from indexing with inflation. Well, all these years later the new law requires OSHA to come up to the inflation numbers they have determined.
The Department of Labor came up with two interim final rules to adjust its penalties for inflation:
1) One DOL-only rule covered the vast majority of penalties assessed by the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety & Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and Wage and Hour Division; and
2) A second rule jointly with the Department of Homeland Security to adjust the penalties associated with the H-2B temporary guest worker program.
These rules apply to the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act’s clear formula on how to determine the proper adjustment for each penalty. The rules are also informed by further guidance released by the Office of Management and Budget to ensure uniform implementation of these penalties across agencies.
The rules that are changing will MODERNIZE some penalties that have long lost ground to inflation (Laughing Out Loud):
• OSHA penalties which have not been increased since 1990 will increase by 78%, with the top penalty for serious violations rising from $7,000.00 to $12,471.00 and its top penalty for willful or repeated violations rising from $70,000.00 to $124,709.00…WOW!
• OWCPs penalties for failure to report termination of payments under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act has only increased $10.00 since 1927, and will rise from $110. To $275. Of course, you are not too concerned with this one, but the next one is really putting you at risk.
• WHDs penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will rise from $1,100. To $1,894. This one puts you at risk after an audit by the Wage and Hour inspectors.
Our Federal government believes that these penalty increases will deter violations, which will provide a significant benefit not only for workers but also for responsible employers who will have a more level playing field when competing with employers who are not following the law.
The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed by the Department after August 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015, the date of the enactment of the Inflation Adjustment Act. Retroactive if you are already in trouble.
The above information was lifted from the www.dol.gov site and if you need more information go there and look for “inflation.” Of course, our readers are most likely not going to go there so I will attempt to tell you how this all works.
In order for you to be affected by all of this you will have to have an audit either by OSHA, Worker Compensation, or the Wage and Hour folks or get these audits triggered by an attorney. We have already discussed the OSHA inspection and how that happens. Workers who complain to Worker Compensation Attorneys that an injury that YOU the employer has not adequately (in their estimation) been taken care of, can get an audit going on your business practices and record keeping. Again, if a worker complains about how you allot pay to employees can complain to the Wage and Hour folks which will trigger an audit that will keep you up at night, and like I have stated, cause great gastric distress (you figure out what that means).
Of course, you know that I believe you should be in compliance with ALL Rules and Laws that cover your business, but keeping up with them all will require consultants of some kind, we are all out there trying to help you in some way, but it is difficult to pay a consultant out of profits when we are just there to protect you. While consultants do not provide a direct path to profits, they can sure help you cover your behind and stay out of trouble. Remember that the most complained onerous problems in business are caused by GOVERNMENT and in surveys of small business owners regulations are the first or second concern.
Now back to my complaint, I want to have Social Security increased by 78%.