The USDOL has announced the Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI) which will promote greater understanding of federal labor laws and regulations, allowing job creators to prevent violations and protect Americans’ wages, workplace safety and health, retirement security, and other rights and benefits. As part of its work, OCI will work with the enforcement agencies to refine their metrics to ensure the efficacy of the Department’s compliance assistance activities. Established within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, OCI will provide leadership and support to the Department’s enforcement agencies, advancing the expansion and development of innovative approaches to compliance assistance and enforcement. OCI’s work will include:
- Facilitating and encouraging a culture that promotes compliance assistance within the Department
- Providing employers and workers with access to high-quality, up-to-date information about their obligations and rights under federal labor laws and regulations
- Assisting enforcement agencies in developing new strategies to use data for more impactful compliance and enforcement strategies
- Enhancing outreach to stakeholders for the Department’s enforcement agencies
New sites for workers and employers
The OCI has also created two new websites designed to provide information and answer questions. The first is Worker.gov where workers can get information about pay fairness, equal treatment, union issues and veteran rights. The second is Employer.gov which provides job creators easy-to-understand information about their responsibilities under federal laws and regulations. I am happy to see this happen, despite the fact that it may run me out of business.
Critics have labeled this program as just another indication of the DOL’s move from a move from punishing employers to helping them learn compliance. My response to that is “It is about damn time!” Workers and employers don’t really gain by the businesses being punished! Companies need to learn to do it correctly. My experience has been that most companies don’t intend to cheat their employees. My entire consulting practice has been focused on helping companies do it correctly. When a company gets punished the workers don’t gain. It is the attornies and the agencies that get all the extra money. The workers get their back pay, but not much else. Wouldn’t it be better to make sure they were getting paid and treated properly from the get-go? Combine this program with enforcement after education seems to be the best solution.
I applaud the USDOL and Secretary Acosta for this move.