HR Alerts For August 2016
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Department of Labor Penalty Increases
In 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 started being assessed 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.
OSHA Delays Effective Date For Enforcing Drug Testing Changes In The Anti-Retaliation Section
OSHA is delaying enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its new injury and illness-tracking rule to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. Originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, enforcement will now begin Nov. 1, 2016.
If you conduct post accident drug testing – pay attention to this!
Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Here are some highlights:
- New regulations state that employers should limit post-accident drug testing policies to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident.
- OSHA is concerned that stringent policies may deter injury reporting.
- Incentive programs for accident-free days also discouraged, with employers being encouraged to focus on other safety indicators.
If OSHA finds that an employer drug testing policy or incentive program deters the reporting of injuries and illnesses by employees, it may issue significant penalties for each violation. Those penalties increased in August 2016 to $12,471 per violation, and $124,712 per willful or repeat violations.
Louisville and Lexington Increase Minimum Wage
The Kentucky minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, on July 1, 2016, Louisville raised its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and Lexington raised it minimum wage to $8.20 an hour.
The highest applicable wage should always be paid, whether federal, state, or local. Below are the planned future increases to minimum wage in Louisville and Lexington.
- Current minimum wage: $8.25/hr
- $9.00 on July 1, 2017
- Current minimum wage: $8.20/hr
- $9.15 on July 1, 2017
- $10.10 on July 1, 2018