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Employment law: the Defense Base Compensation Act

The Defense Base Compensation Act provides coverage to employees who are injured in the course of working under federal contracts, for example, on military bases. Injuries can include illness. Understanding this compensation, which is a sub-regulation of the Longshore Act, is imperative to not only remaining compliant, but also to securing and maintaining your business' workforce.

Benefits to Employees


  1. Compensation: Employees covered by Defense Base Compensation are eligible to receive 2/3 of their weekly pay, up to a maximum limit, for as long as they are injured/ill.

  2. Permanent impairments may also deem an employee eligible for compensation.

  3. In the event an employee dies, the spouse may be entitled to 1/2 of the employee's weekly pay. Surviving children are entitled to additional compensation, bringing potential total compensation up to 2/3.


Penalties for Non-Compliance

  1. An employer who fails to pay benefits on time may risk facing penalties of 10-20%.

  2. If an employer fails either to secure coverage, or provide it through self-insured means, said employer may face imprisonment for less than a year, and/or fines up to $10,000.

  3. There may be additional fines for employers who fail to properly report on the incident leading to the claim.

  4. Discrimination may result in an employer being fined up to $5,000.


Additional resources and information can be found on the Federal Department of Labor's website. As with most regulations, laws and acts pertaining to employment, there are additional stipulations that cannot be covered in a brief overview. Our design here is to provide both employers and employees who work under federal contracts a brief overview of what is provided by Defense Base Compensation, and what is expected of employers.