The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has been celebrating the week leading up to Labor Day with a flurry of compliance-related activity. In addition to issuing several new opinion letters that provide guidance to employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, the DOL announced the creation of the Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI) and unveiled two new websites, worker.gov and employer.gov.

OCI is a cross-agency effort coordinated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy.

In a news release, the DOL said that OCI 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.” OCI also “will work with enforcement agencies to refine their metrics to ensure the efficacy of the [DOL's] compliance assistance activities.”

According to the DOL, OCI will provide leadership and support to the DOL’s enforcement agencies, with the goal of “advancing the expansion and development of innovative approaches to compliance assistance and enforcement.” Its work will include the following:

  • “Facilitating and encouraging a culture that promotes compliance assistance within the [DOL]
  • 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”

The two new websites announced in conjunction with the creation of OCI are designed to assist workers and employers that have compliance questions. Worker.gov “provides a centralized base of information focused on worker protections” under various federal laws. Employer.gov provides employers with information about their responsibilities under such laws, and it includes a resource section specifically designed for small business owners.

Although the websites do not provide a comprehensive listing or analysis of all rights and responsibilities that exist under every federal employment and labor law, they do address topics that fall outside the jurisdiction of the DOL, such as employment discrimination laws that are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).