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Double-digit increases for L&I penalties

Double-digit increases for L&I penalties (from the Department of Labor and Industries):

In 2020, the Legislature enacted a law increasing the statutory penalties for violations of workers’ compensation laws and providing for periodic adjustments for inflation. Prior to the 2020 law, most of the penalty amounts had not increased since the 1980s. Under new RCW 51.48.095, penalties with set dollar amounts are to be adjusted for inflation every three years. The first change begins on July 1, 2023. The anticipated adjustment is 16.1%. This means that for a penalty of $1000, a 16.1% increase is $161. 

L&I will send notice of the final adjusted penalty amounts and update penalty information on the L&I website in June 2023. The law provides for increasing penalties by comparing the annual changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in the Seattle area over the three-year period prior to the adjustment. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles the CPI-W data.

The first change that occurs on July 1, 2023 will be based on the change in the annual CPI-W in the Seattle area in 2020, 2021, and 2022. In addition, during the last quarter of the year preceding the adjustment, L&I is directed to calculate an anticipated adjustment and gather stakeholder comment.

To calculate the anticipated adjustment, L&I used the annual CPI-W for the Seattle area for 2020, 2021 and the CPI-W for the Seattle area from January 2022 through October 2022. The information below lists all the penalties that will have an inflationary adjustment, along with the current penalty amount and the anticipated adjustment based on the CPI-W change from 2020 through October 2022.

Send comments on the adjustment to L&I will review any comments submitted. However, the law does not give L&I any discretion over automatic inflationary adjustment of penalties.  

See L&I’s complete informational table here.

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