Trump hiring freeze could curb DOL rules enforcement

Dive Brief:

  • President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze has left Labor Dept. officials unsure of the agency’s ability to investigate workplace claims and enforce the law, Bloomberg BNA reports. There’s also bipartisan concern from lawmakers about the possible mass exodus of many DOL employees.
  • The department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has more than 1,200 non-managerial employees. Among them are 1,000 investigators charged with protecting workers’ leave and wage rights and investigating wage and overtime allegations, according to the report.
  • About 25% of the WHD field staff is eligible for either retiring or taking an early leave from the agency, says BNA, after reviewing DOL bargaining unit records.

Dive Insight:

Government agencies experience staff turnover between administration changes, so the hiring freeze was not exactly unexpected.

However, if an exodus involves large numbers of DOL workers, investigations and enforcement could be hindered. A similar situation occurred at the U.S. State Dept. shortly after Trump's inauguration when members of its senior management team resigned, prompting operational concerns.

The fate of some DOL regulations are lingering in the courts. Injunctions centered around the fiduciary and overtime rules add more uncertainty to DOL’s enforcement capability. HR departments should be firmly on the side of compliance, regardless of the turbulence.

Filed Under: Legal