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Department of Labor Announces New Compliance Measures for Employers

On Thursday, April 29, 2010 the DOL announced its plans to require employers to prepare and adopt compliance plans. The compliance plans, aimed at reducing legal violations, would address wage, job safety, and equal employment opportunity issues. The DOL’s purpose, apparently, is to foster a culture of compliance to replace the current culture that enables many employers to violate the laws without being caught.

For some employers, the compliance requirements may provide an opportunity to improve practices and ultimately avoid costly violations. For many others, however, new compliance regulations will symbolize an added burden to administrative and documentation requirements. Many employers have expressed concern that the new compliance requirements will create more work but will not actually improve compliance.

The DOL has responded to such concerns by stating that compliance would improve because employers would be required to develop, implement, and submit a plan to the DOL for approval. In some cases, employers would be required to share information with workers. For example, employers who classify workers as independent contractors would have to prepare written explanations detailing why those workers should be considered independent contractors rather than employees. The employer would then have to share the explanation with the workers.

Despite the DOL’s enthusiasm for the new compliance measures, it is not entirely clear at this point how these compliance requirements will actually result in enhanced compliance or reduced violations. The key problem that plagues the DOL and its ability to enforce wage, discrimination, and safety laws is the department’s meager budget and lack of investigators. Even though President Obama’s 2010 budget increased DOL funding by millions of dollars and enabled the DOL to add investigators around the country,* the DOL continues to indicate that its limited number of investigators makes it hard to protect workers.

How the plans will be reviewed and enforced is not yet known and the actual requirements of these new compliance measures have not yet been finalized. Employers will have an opportunity to comment on any regulations proposed by the DOL.

If you have any questions about the DOL’s announcement; wage and hour, safety, or equal employment laws; or how to comment on proposed regulations, please contact the labor and employment attorneys at Bingham McHale.

For more on the DOL and President Obama’s 2010 budget, see:



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