In a big change from the Obama years, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced on June 27 that the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL is reinstituting the previously longstanding practice of issuing “Opinion Letters” to interested parties to provide them with guidance on issues of federal wage-hour law in particular situations. The DOL under President Obama halted the 70-plus-year practice in 2010, and instead issued general guidance in the form of Administrator Interpretations. This was consistent with the prior administration’s general emphasis on enforcement and employer penalties.
In a news release, Secretary Acosta said that the Trump DOL is committed to helping employers and employees understand their labor responsibilities so that employers can concentrate on growing their businesses and creating jobs. To facilitate employer and employee understanding of the law, the DOL is establishing a website that will be designed to allow employers and other interested parties to review existing Opinion Letters and to submit requests for new Opinion Letters.
The shift in emphasis from enforcement and penalties to positive compliance assistance is a welcome one for employers.