Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees advanced bills this week to fund various federal agencies for FY 2016. Each chamber approved versions of spending measures that include riders prohibiting funding for a variety of the administration’s regulatory initiatives.
Articles Discussing The Department Of Labor.
The Obama Administration used the occasion of Memorial Day weekend to release its required Semiannual Regulatory Agenda. The Agenda, which is not binding on the DOL, lists a number of items including two specifically related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). One of them is the “white collar” overtime exemption rules that we have been telling you about recently. As we noted, these rules are expected in proposed form sometime in June. The other item is new to the Agenda: employee use of smartphones and other electronic devices after regular work hours.
We’ve reached almost the end of April, and the long delayed, new FLSA regulations are still percolating somewhere in deep inside the DOL. So what has the agency been up to instead? Last month, as part of the annual “Sunshine Week” spotlighting the importance of open government, freedom of information, and the public’s right to know, the DOL took a rather odd view of government transparency: spotlighting enforcement against businesses.
The day after the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to discuss the Department of Labor’s budget proposal for FY 2016, a separate House committee put Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in the hot seat over the same issue. Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee posed to Perez many of the same questions asked of him during yesterday’s hearing, but did veer into some new territory, particularly with respect to pending regulations governing overtime and changes to the so-called fiduciary rule.
Members of the House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez about various Department of Labor plans and initiatives during a hearing to discuss the department’s fiscal year 2016 budget request. Under the President’s FY 2016 request, the DOL would receive $13.2 billion in discretionary funding. Various committee members asked Perez to explain his priorities, as well as the status of pending activities.
The Senate voted narrowly on Monday to confirm David Weil as administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The narrow 51-42 majority followed a similarly narrow 12-10 party-line committee vote in December. The WHD is the DOL division that, among other duties, implements and enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations and oversees various worker misclassification initiatives we have reported on previously. The Senate had not confirmed a WHD administrator since 2001, and since 2004 the position has been filled by acting leaders and a recess appointee. President Obama controversially nominated Dr. Weil, a respected Boston University professor, Harvard researcher, and DOL advisor, to fill the position in September 2013. Weil was the administration’s third nominee for the position.
The revised Senate rule allowing certain presidential nominations to be confirmed with a simple majority vote – previously ridiculed as the “nuclear option” – enabled the Senate on Monday to confirm David Weil as the next administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The vote was 51-42 in favor of his nomination.
Although unlikely to be passed in its current form, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request to Congress allocates an additional $2 million of the Department of Labor’s requested $1.8 billion budget so that the Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) can hire additional personnel primarily to deal with a massive backlog of cases.
House lawmakers raised pointed questions concerning the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Wage and Hour Division during an appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Department of Labor’s FY 2015 budget request. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez responded to numerous inquiries as the sole witness during the exchange. A similar hearing was conducted last week by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, during which many of the same issues were highlighted. The tone of Wednesday’s appropriations hearing, however, was markedly more contentious.
Perhaps due to the increased scrutiny business advocacy groups have placed on the implications of the DOL’s anticipated revisions to the “persuader” regulations, the agency has said it is once again delaying the final rule’s release.
On Tuesday, the White House released its $3.9 trillion budget proposal for FY 2015. While such proposals are more aspirational than anything else, they do provide insight into the programs and initiatives the Administration deems priorities for the coming year. The budget for the Department of Labor (DOL) is notable because it reflects the Agency’s continued emphasis on enforcement. The proposal would grant the DOL$11.8 billion in discretionary funding, much of which would support the enforcement of wage and hour, worker misclassification, whistleblower, and employment safety laws. The budget is expected to face criticism from Congress, where a number of proposals are likely to be rejected or modified. However, the budget request confirms that employers can expect aggressive enforcement of federal employment and labor laws to continue. Highlights from the proposal are as follows….
While the federal government closed on Tuesday due to inclement weather, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) forged ahead with its hearing to consider the nomination of David Weil to be the next DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Administrator. This position – which has been vacant for several years – is an important one. The WHD will be the sub-agency charged with enforcing the recently-issued “companionship” rule extending Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections to home healthcare workers, as well as the DOL’s many worker misclassification initiatives.
President Obama has announced his choice to serve as Administrator of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The position has remained vacant for a number of years. The WHD is the DOL sub-agency that will implement many key regulatory and policy proposals in the coming year, including the imminent final companionship exemption rule that will apply the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to domestic service workers, and various worker misclassification initiatives.
Former professor and union–side lawyer Michael Hayes is the new director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS). Hayes comes to the OLMS from the University of Baltimore, where he has served as a professor since 1998.
Two federal agents arrive at your workplace and ask to interview all of your employees and see all of your payroll records for the last two years. Their business cards say that they are investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division. What do you do?