New U.S. DOL Office Offers Employers Compliance Assistance

The DOL wants to help employers comply with federal labor laws.

This past week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it’s creating a new Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI) to help companies comply with federal labor laws, prevent violations and extend compliance outreach. Labor laws can be complex, and the OCI’s goal is to promote a greater understanding of federal labor laws — allowing businesses to continue creating jobs while simultaneously preventing violations, and protecting workers’ wages, workplace safety and health, and other rights and benefits.

The OCI’s work includes:

  • Facilitating and encouraging a culture that promotes compliance assistance within the DOL;
  • Providing employers and workers with access to high-quality, up-to-date information about their obligations and rights under federal labor laws and regulations;
  • Assisting enforcement agencies in developing new strategies to use data for more impactful compliance and enforcement strategies; and
  • Enhancing outreach to stakeholders for the DOL’s enforcement agencies.

The DOL’s new focus on compliance doesn’t mean that it will ease up on enforcement and punishing companies that violate the law. Instead, the OCI should be seen as complementary to the DOL’s enforcement arm.

“Vigorous enforcement and compliance assistance go hand in hand,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in a press release. “The Office of Compliance Initiatives expands our efforts to promote full compliance with federal labor law.”

The DOL is hopeful that more effective compliance assistance will help it focus enforcement efforts on repeat and willful violators of federal labor laws to level the playing field for businesses that comply with the law.

As part of the new initiative, two new websites were launched with compliance resources:

  • The website provides job creators with clear information about their responsibilities under federal laws and regulations.
  • The website provides a centralized base of information focused on federal worker protections.

Remember that this information only addresses federal requirements. California’s labor laws generally exceed federal requirements and provide greater worker protections — whichever law most protects the employee is the law that will apply.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Senior Employment Law Counsel

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