The Department of Labor (DOL) announced it’s hiring 100 investigators to join its Wage and Hour Division (WHD), with the primary goal of ensuring American workers are afforded all the legal protections of the law. This investment by the Biden administration reinforces the President’s larger agenda of strengthening workers’ rights.
This means the DOL intends to more heavily investigate and enforce not only wage & hour issues like overtime and breaks, but also things fundamental to benefits administration such as:
- Misclassification of workers as independent contractors (which can affect not only the employer’s overall size to determine which laws apply but also which workers must be offered benefits)
- Paid hours (which must count toward benefits eligibility)
- Leave protections (which often protect an employee’s ability to remain enrolled in benefits)
- Worker retaliation (which might protect an employee’s ability to remain enrolled in benefits during an investigation into retaliation claims)
Employers will want to be watching these areas to ensure compliance, not only in their own organization but also with respect to any potential merger and acquisition partnerships. Documenting anything out of the ordinary will be a crucial defense.
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