The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released its Final Strategic Plan (pdf) for the next five-year period. Although this document merely outlines the agency’s general goals, it does provide some insight as to what the agency deems most important and where it will focus its resources, enforcement efforts and regulatory activity in the upcoming years. The Plan is organized around the following five strategic goals:
- Prepare workers for good jobs and ensure fair compensation
- Ensure workplaces are safe and healthy
- Assure fair and high quality work-life environments
- Secure health benefits and, for those not working provide income security
- Produce timely and accurate data on the economic conditions of workers and their families
For each of these five strategic goals, the DOL lists supporting goals, outcome goals, and performance benchmarks that the sub-agencies within the DOL should meet to achieve these five general aims. Notably, the strategic plan confirms the Department’s intent to target the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. With respect to the goal of preparing workers for good jobs and ensuring fair compensation, the plan states that the Wage and Hour Divisions “will be a key partner in a joint Department of Treasury-Department of Labor initiative to detect and deter the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and to strengthen and coordinate federal and state efforts to enforce labor law violations arising from misclassification.” The strategic plan also cites the FLSA recordkeeping regulations – which the Wage and Hour Division is developing and plans to publish as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2011 – as an example of the DOL’s Plan/Prevent/Protect strategy. According to the strategic plan: “the FLSA recordkeeping regulations under development will require that covered employers notify each of their workers of their rights under the FLSA, and provide employees with information regarding their hours worked and wage computations.”
In order to achieve the goal of ensuring workplaces are safe and healthy, the strategic plan cites OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program focuses enforcement efforts on significant hazards and violations by concentrating inspection resources on employers who have demonstrated recalcitrance or indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act obligations by committing willful violations, repeated violations, or violations they have failed to abate.
With respect to the agency’s focus on quantifying its efforts in reaching these goals, the DOL has also issued a document – A New Approach to Measuring the Performance of U.S. Department of Labor Worker Protection Agencies (pdf) – which explains the DOL’s new focus on accountability.
This past year has seen an uptick in agency enforcement activity. This DOL’s new performance-driven approach reflected in its strategic plan will no doubt bolster this trend.