HR Management & Compliance

DOL’s Agenda Focuses on Safety and Wages

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis has announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulatory agenda for 2010, saying, “Protecting wages and working conditions for workers is key to the mission of our department, and ensuring that workers have a voice on the job is also vital.” The agenda is expected to satisfy many union demands. Below is a summary of the DOL’s priorities by department.

Wage and Hour Division

  • The Wage and Hour Division intends to initiate rulemaking to update employer record-keeping regulations, require employers to share payroll records with employees to foster more openness and transparency, and demonstrate compliance with minimum wage and overtime requirements. A proposed rule is expected in August 2010.
  • The plan stated that the division will review the implementation of the new military family leave amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that were included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008 as well as other provisions of the FMLA regulations that were revised and implemented in January 2009. A proposed rule is expected in November 2010.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs

  • The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) intends to update the affirmative action obligations for construction contractors last updated 30 years ago. The OFCCP will review barriers to equal employment opportunity for women and people with disabilities so that opportunities for them in construction are “measurably increased.” A proposed rule is expected in January 2011.
  • The office intends to revise Section 503 regulations on recruitment and placement of individuals with disabilities. The changes are expected to require federal contractors and subcontractors to conduct more substantive analyses and monitoring of their workforce to determine underutilization of people with disabilities and establish placement goals. A proposed rule is expected in December 2010.
  • Revised regulations for recruitment and placement of veterans are also expected to be proposed in December 2010.

Employment and Training Administration

  • The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) plans to issue a final rule in February 2010 on H-2A temporary foreign agricultural workers. The agency is reconsidering the use of attestations, which allow employers merely to attest that they have tried to find workers in the labor market without actually documenting their efforts.
  • By November 2010, the ETA expects to propose rules “to re-engineer the H-2B program” to protect “the wages and working conditions of both American workers and foreign nationals working in the United States.” Solis said the proposal will ensure that U.S. workers are fully considered for jobs ultimately given to H-2B workers.

Office of Labor Management Standards

  • Proposed rules are expected in January 2010 to rescind the Form T-1 (Trust Annual Report), which some unions file to disclose financial information about their trusts. Form T-1 will be replaced with a requirement that unions report on their subsidiary organizations on their Form LM-2s (Labor Organization Annual Reports).
  • A proposed rule is expected by May 2010 on the Form LM-30 (Labor Organization Officer and Employee Report), which is intended to identify potential conflicts of interest between union officials and the union.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • In January 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will propose a revision to regulations on recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses to restore a column on the OSHA 300 Injury and Illness Log that employers will check when recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Solis stated this was not a prelude to a broader ergonomic standard but rather reinstates the MSD column previously removed from the OSHA 300 form in 2003.
  • In February 2010, OSHA will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the Hazard Communication Standard. The revised standard will include more specific requirements for hazard classification as well as standardized label components, which will provide consistent information and definitions for hazardous chemicals and a standard approach to conveying information on material safety data sheets.
  • In March 2010, OSHA intends to publish a request for information to examine how to better protect workers from occupational exposure to airborne diseases such as tuberculosis, severe acute respiratory syndrome (commonly known as SARS), and influenza. OSHA is interested in determining whether voluntary recommendations are being followed and whether mandatory regulations would be more effective.
  • In March 2010, OSHA also plans to update regulations covering slip, trip, and fall hazards and to establish requirements for personal fall protection systems. According to OSHA, the rule will affect almost every nonconstruction worker in the United States.

Excerpted from FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT LAW INSIDER and written by attorneys at the law firms of McGuireWoods LLP and Fortney & Scott, LLC. Federal Employment Law Insider does not attempt to offer solutions to individual problems but rather to provide information about current developments in federal employment law. Questions about individual problems should be addressed to the federal employment law attorney of your choice.

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