- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will add an Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI), Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced Aug. 28.
- DOL said OCI "will promote greater understanding of federal labor laws and regulations, allowing employers to prevent violations, protect Americans' wages and benefits, and ensure workplace safety." The announcement includes the launch of two websites: employer.gov and worker.gov. The former will provide information on worker protections, while the inform employers about compliance responsibilities, DOL said.
- Additionally, OCI will work with enforcement agencies "to refine their metrics to ensure the efficacy of the Department's compliance assistance activities" while also "facilitating and encouraging a culture that promotes compliance assistance within the Department."
The announcement is yet another indication that DOL, under the Trump administration, is approaching enforcement in a more business-friendly way than it did during the Obama years. The "compliance assistance" approach is not unusual for republican administrations, and is in line with other Trump DOL moves.
DOL attracted the attention of employers and their counsel, for example, with the rollout of its Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) pilot program, which encourages employers to audit their pay practices and self-report any violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. DOL said the program allows parties involved in a disagreement to avoid litigation while also giving employers the chance to provide workers any back pay they're owed. But some employee advocates have criticized PAID as a "get out of jail free" program for employers who violate the law. Some employer groups also have questioned whether participation could paint a target on employers' backs in the future.
While it remains to be seen just what OCI means for compliance and enforcement, employers can, in the meantime, consider the employer.gov resource, and check out what employees are reading at worker.gov.