The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) released updated compliance assistance tools as part of its ongoing efforts to modernize materials for employers and workers and to provide easily accessible, plain-language information that will guide them to compliance. These updated tools provide a more streamlined format and link to numerous additional resources and related information.
"The Wage and Hour Division believes in providing employers all the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and comply with the law," said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl M. Stanton. "We are committed to protecting American workers, and leveling the playing field for job creators who abide by the law. Compliance assistance and rigorous enforcement go hand-in-hand."
How These Tools Aid in Compliance
The tools were created to provide greater understanding of rules and regulations that help to prevent and mitigate employer behavior that could lead to unfair work practices. Below we explain how these different tools are assisting compliance personnel:
- Posters – Several of the statutes and regulations that the WHD oversee require businesses to post notices or informational posters. Even where not required, workplace posters can show an organization’s good faith effort to educate employees about their rights and roles under important labor laws.
- Forms – Using the appropriate form to record critical information is key in compliance. Documentation and recordkeeping practices are often an organization’s best defense against claims of violations and can be used to demonstrate that appropriate measures were taken.
- Fact Sheets – Fact sheets can be used to educate employees on specific topics pertaining to compliance. They concisely emphasize key points, and employees are able to refer to them as reinforcement of training or when they need a quick overview of information.
- Presentations – Topic-specific presentations can help compliance personnel in building training curriculum. They may also be used as micro-courses to complement general compliance programs.
- New and Small Businesses Resource Page – New and small businesses may need tailored guidance in complying with laws administered by the WHD and Department of Labor (DOL). This resource page was created to provide general information and other helpful federal resources to organizations that may be navigating compliance for the first time.
- Compliance Assistance Toolkits – These toolkits offer compliance personnel step-by-step guidance on wage and hour laws. They include guidance on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and guidance for specific types of employment such as agriculture, youth, and restaurants. Businesses can gain a better understanding of compliance requirements using the fact sheets, posting requirements, and interactive tools included in these kits.
- Industry-Specific Resources – Certain industries, such as construction, retail, and healthcare, have additional compliance requirements. The WHD will often take a closer look at industries that are subject to these additional requirements, particularly if the industry has a history of violations or by its nature has an increased risk of labor abuse or violations. It is particularly important that compliance personnel comply with requirements under general guidelines as well as any that are unique to the industry under which their business is classified.
Tools in the Context of DOL’s Outreach Efforts
The release of these tools comes as part of a broader outreach effort by the DOL.
In FY19, the WHD recovered a record $322 million owed to workers. This signifies that a number of businesses are not complying with wage and hour laws meant to protect employees. Further, on September 24, 2019, the DOL announced a final rule updating the overtime requirements under the FLSA, which makes an additional 1.3 million Americans eligible to receive overtime pay. This could dramatically increase the instances of wage and hour violations, since many more employees will be covered by overtime requirements.
The DOL recognized that employers could benefit from more readily available and user-friendly resources. As such, the Department identified modernizing compliance assistance resources as part of its objectives in its FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, particularly with regards to wage and hour requirements. This is intended to further the WHD's mission and proactively prevent violations.
The release of these updated compliance materials is evidence of those continuing efforts.
Utilizing Your Resources
Government agencies provide tools and guidance in an effort to assist businesses with workplace compliance. Proactive organizations should take advantage of these resources and materials by integrating them into a comprehensive compliance program. Organizations can work with a trusted third-party partner to incorporate provided information into training programs, including resources such as reinforcement handouts and micro-courses.
Utilizing these tools can not only help companies avoid serious consequences by preventing violations, but it can also help in the event of a DOL investigation to show an employer's compliance efforts. By making the most of these compliance tools and other agency resources, organizations demonstrate their commitment to doing ethical and lawful business, avoid or mitigate harsh penalties and fines, and ensure their reputations as trusted partners.