New laws toughen up penalties for labor law violations

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 8:53 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 7, 2016 at 10:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii employers who fail to comply with state labor laws will face stricter penalties, under new measures signed into law July 1.

Gov. David Ige signed the laws, increasing the penalties violations of requirements for workers' compensation insurance, temporary disability insurance and for breaking prevailing wage laws on public construction projects.

In Nov. 2015, an investigation by the Labor Department found dozens of contractors and subcontractors working at the Ala Moana Center's new Ewa wing violated labor laws by not necessary taxes.

Furthermore, the department found a number of construction firms also failed to pay pre-paid health insurance and temporary disability insurance for their workers.

With the signing of the new laws, the penalties for failing to provide workers' compensation insurance rose from $10 per employee per day to $100 per employee per day. This change also marked the first change in 28 years.

The penalty for non-compliance with maintaining temporary disability insurance also increased for the first time since it was established in 1969 from $1 per employee per day to $100 per employee per day.

"DLIR supported the substantial increase in penalties to serve as a deterrent to help enforce the law," DLIR director Linda Chu Takayama said. "It also makes for a more level playing field for law-abiding employers who pay their fair share and provide the statutory benefits to their workers."

With Act 192, the penalties for violating the state's prevailing wage laws on public construction projects also saw a rise.

The fines rose from 10 percent to 25 percent of the amount of back wages due or $250 per offense for a first offense; from $100 to $500 or the equivalent of the back wages due for a second offense within two years; and for a third offense within three years of the second violation from $200 or the amount of back wages to two times the amount of back wages or $1,000 per offense and be suspended from any new public work projects for three years.

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