DOL announces interim rules to adjust penalties for inflation

In response to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act passed by Congress in 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) has announced two interim final rules to adjust its penalties for inflation based on the previous time each penalty was increased. The act directs agencies to adjust their penalties for inflation each year using a more straightforward method and required agencies to publish their interim final rules by July 1 to make up for lost time since the most recent penalty adjustments. DOL will accept public comments for 45 days to inform the publication of any final rule.

DOL's first rule will address a majority of penalties assessed by the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, and Wage and Hour Division. The second rule will be issued jointly with the Department of Homeland Security to adjust penalties associated with the H-2B temporary guest worker program.

The new method will adjust penalties for inflation though the amount of any increase is capped at 150 percent of the existing penalty amount. The new penalty amounts only apply to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1 for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.