Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do you know? The Department of Labor updates its strategic plan for the next five years

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor launched its We Can Help website, offering employees a one-stop-shop for wage and hour information, and information on how to file complaints against their employers. The DOL recently put a little more meat on its regulatory plans, announcing its updated five-year strategic plan, called “Good Jobs for Everyone” [pdf]. The plan has five strategic goals:

  1. Prepare workers for good jobs and ensure fair compensation.
  2. Ensure workplaces are safe and healthy.
  3. Assure fair and high quality work‐life environments.
  4. Secure health benefits and, for those not working, provide income security.
  5. Produce timely and accurate data on the economic conditions of workers and their families.

One key provision of this plan caught my eye, and should concern employers.

Outcome Goal 1.5—Secure wages and overtime. This goal has four key components:

  • Protecting vulnerable workers: The DOL believes that employers who use contract or temporary workers, in addition to young workers, are at a greater risk for wage and hour violations. It will target these types of workers for greater protection and enforcement efforts.

  • Targeting high-risk fissured industries: The DOL will specifically target the following “high‐risk” industries for greater enforcement: agriculture, janitorial services, construction, and hotels/motels. The DOL will continue to conduct investigation‐based compliance evaluations to determine the percent of prior violators who come into and stay in compliance with the FLSA.

  • Securing sustained compliance: The DOL will enhance its complaint investigation program, in addition to expanding pubic awareness and outreach. Most notably, the DOL will target the most persistent violators by pursuing corporate‐wide compliance strategies and by imposing appropriate penalties and sanctions.

  • Identifying employee misclassifications: The DOL is concerned that employers are misclassifying employees and independent contractors to deny access to benefits and legal protections, such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage, and unemployment insurance. The FLSA recordkeeping regulations under development will require that employers notify each worker of their rights under the FLSA, and provide employees with information regarding their hours worked and wage computations.

In other words, the DOL is making good on its promise to increase monitoring and enforcement of wage and hour laws, specifically as they pertain to low-wage/high-risk employees, and employee/contractor misclassifications. For more on what this means for you and your business, I recommend the following:

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.