Authored by Alex Passantino

The President’s FY2017 budget request seeks a nearly $50 million increase in the Wage & Hour Division’s budget.  This more than 20% increase would fund, among other things, 300 additional investigative staff — putting the number of WHD employees over 2,000 for the first time in recent memory.  WHD also seeks around $9 million for case management system upgrades and data analytics capabilities, stating its need for

a more in-depth understanding of industries, business models, and a more coordinated approach to conducting enforcement across networks of businesses, supply chains, or contracting relationships.  

Not surprisingly, WHD describes its focus on fissured industries, and specifically details the change in its investigative process:

WHD has also shifted its approach from one that focused on single establishments and resolving complaints, to one that proactively seeks to improve compliance across industries for greater numbers of workers.

Although not specifically referenced, WHD’s recent Administrator’s Interpretation on joint employment is part of the larger plan:

As businesses have contracted out work, sometimes through several layers of contractors, more parties have a role to play in ensuring compliance with labor standards.

The budget documentation also reminds the regulated community of WHD’s efforts on the regulatory side. First and foremost, of course, is WHD’s effort to revise the white-collar exemption regulations.  WHD also plans to focus on issuing a proposed regulation on the federal contractor sick leave Executive Order (currently at OMB for review), implementing its recent regulation related to home care workers, and enforcing the regulation addressing government contractor minimum wage.  Finally, WHD notes that it will “continue refining the requirements and implementation strategies for Executive Order 13673 — Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”  [This Executive Order, often referred to as the “blacklisting” Executive Order, would require prospective government contractors to report certain labor law violations to the government, which would use compliance records in making contracting decisions.]

Of course, the budget request is not likely to pass, given Republican control of Congress, the budget deal reached with the President on FY2017 spending levels, and the upcoming Presidential election. Nevertheless, it provides a clear road map of where WHD is headed . . . and what it would do in the unlikely event that it was funded at the requested levels.