The Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.
Following is a brief description of many of DOL’s principal statutes most commonly applicable to businesses, job seekers, workers, retirees, contractors and grantees. This brief summary is intended to acquaint you with the major labor laws and not to offer a detailed exposition. For authoritative information and references to fuller descriptions on these laws, you should consult the statutes and regulations themselves.
Employment Laws Assistance provides a list of selected U.S. Department of Labor laws and regulations with links to related compliance assistance activities. The DOL compliance assistance Web site offers complete information on how to comply with federal employment laws.
Rulemaking and Regulations provides brief descriptions of and links to various sources of information on DOL’s rulemaking activities and regulations.
Wages & Hours
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment. The act is administered by the Wage and Hour Division. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. For nonagricultural operations, it restricts the hours that children under age 16 can work and forbids the employment of children under age 18 in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment of children under age 16 during school hours and in certain jobs deemed too dangerous.
The Wage and Hour Division also enforces the labor standards provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that apply to aliens authorized to work in the U.S. under certain nonimmigrant visa programs (H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C, H2A).
Workplace Safety & Health
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or OSHA-approved state programs, which also cover public sector employers. Employers covered by the OSH Act must comply with the regulations and the safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA. Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards. OSHA enforces the Act through workplace inspections and investigations. Compliance assistance and other cooperative programs are also available.