Bloomberg: Labor law enforcement shaky with no wage and hour head
- The Trump administration has yet to name a Wage and Hour Division (WHD) head, leaving field officials enforcing overtime, minimum-wage and family leave laws based on previous White House directives, Bloomberg BNA reports. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta hasn't picked a political advisor to work with WHD officials either.
- Wage and hour lawyers told Bloomberg that the WHD might be taking a pro-business stand. They said investigators have held back questions involving joint-employer liability and have overseen fewer workplace audits, for example.
- The Labor Department will continue enforcing the law, but when political staff become part of the WHD, a shift in policy towards business's interest is likely, says Bloomberg.
With the Trump administration bent on overturning most of the Obama administration's workplace rules, employers already expected some retrenching in enforcement on the federal level. While some arms of the government will take longer to see change (the NLRB, for example), this report is a clear sign that change is on the horizon.
In particular, the joint employer guidance is interesting, as the DOL has already made moves to relax current interpretations of the rule. Under the Obama administration, the DOL began looking more closely at companies that employed any type of contractor work to figure out joint employer situations. Secretary Acosta recently withdrew the Administrator's Interpretations that outlined that position.
But the NLRB still holds its own interpretations of the rule. Browning-Ferris, a joint-employment case, is currently working its way through the courts.
More broadly, some states and municipalities have passed their own laws covering wage and hour issues such as minimum wage and paid family leave. Expect more action out of the states as the federal government relaxes regulations.