When the House Education and Labor Committee advanced their contribution to the House Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, the legislation included massive new fines for violations of OSHA’s COVID-19 standards.
The bill would implement a more than tenfold increase in penalties:
- The maximum penalty for “willful,” “repeated,” and “failure-to-abate” violations would rise from $70,000 to $700,000.
- The minimum penalty would increase from $5,000 to $50,000.
- The maximum penalty for “Serious” violations would go from $7,000 to $70,000.
Additionally, the bill would expand the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) budget to $707 billion so that it can conduct more inspections and ensure compliance. Though we are waiting for official confirmation, the fines would likely tie into President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers and contractors.
The fate of the reconciliation bill is unclear, but it is imperative that employers begin planning in the event that these expansive fines do become law. Please contact the Michael Best team if you have questions. Mike Dankler (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Lucia Alonzo (email@example.com) stand ready to assist.
As for the reconciliation bill, on Saturday, September 25, the House Budget Committee advanced the package with no changes from the language passed by the House committees. It now moves to the House Rules Committee for any final changes before advancing to a House floor vote. Timing on a floor vote is uncertain. Progressives in the House are pushing for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill until the reconciliation package is also ready to send to President Biden’s desk.