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The United States Department of Labor (DOL), the federal agency with responsibility for oversight of employer compliance to protect the nation’s 135 million workers with hourly and wage positions, recently enacted several strategies to offer employers compliance assistance. The DOL also aims to improve enforcement of labor laws to ensure protection of America’s workers.

The opinion letter is one such example of labor department compliance assistance aimed at employers who do their best to follow federal regulations but still find themselves out of compliance at times. The purpose of an opinion letter is to demonstrate how a specific regulation or law that the DOL enforces may apply in the employer’s unique circumstances. After presenting this and other initiatives to the American Payroll Association in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, the DOL reports that it most recently reviewed and published opinion letters on the topics of employee pay, garnishment provisions, and travel time reimbursement.


Specific Labor Department Compliance Assistance Programs

One complaint that employers often have about material from the DOL is that the language is too complex for them to understand, much less follow. To counter this, the federal agency has created hundreds of videos and printed publications written in what it refers to as plain language. Employers and employees alike can find these videos on YouTube as well as the United States Department of Labor website. The latter also maintains a collection of print materials available for download.

Another way that the DOL has pledged to increase understanding and compliance with its regulations is by holding outreach events across the country. Its employees hosted more than 1,300 outreach events last year on topics such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), hiring disabled employees, minimum wage, and many other hot topics in employment.

In 2017, DOL employees fielded more than one million phone calls from employers and employees seeking clarification on compliance issues. The phone call is toll-free and confidential for all callers.

Finally, the DOL has made it possible for employers to report their own payroll errors through a program called PAID. This stands for Payroll Audit Independent Determination program.


New Compliance Enforcement and Partnership Efforts

Because the DOL is placing such an emphasis on education for both employers and employees, it has also ramped up its enforcement efforts. It currently employs approximately 1,600 people solely for enforcement and administration duties. Last year, the DOL recovered back wages of $270 million after completing 28,000 separate investigations. This action had a positive impact on the income of more than 240,000 American workers. While many investigations began after the DOL received an employee complaint, the agency also uses sophisticated data algorithms to uncover employers it should investigate on its own.

Another effort by the DOL is its partnership with entire corporations. It feels that this is an ideal way to help employees understand their rights and employers understand their legal obligations towards employees. The DOL started these partnerships with big names in the fast food industry and intends to branch out to other industries.


Need Additional Help with Compliance Issues?

At Palmetto Payroll, we understand that keeping up with federal regulations regarding employee pay and other compliance issues is always a challenge. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with remaining compliant on an on-going basis or complete a one-time audit.