WA – WC Penalty Increase

The penalty for violating workers’ compensation laws will go up in 2023, to adjust for rising inflation.

The anticipated adjustment is 16.1%. This means that for a penalty of $1000, a 16.1% increase is $161.

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 the 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 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, Washington 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.