The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 laws, on topics as diverse as migrant workers and veterans, with a host of wage, benefit and safety laws in between. There are a handful of these laws, however, that are most likely to be the subject of a claim filed with the DOL against a private employer. These include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Fortunately, there are some basic strategies that employers can take to minimize trouble if the DOL comes knocking.
1. Audit the high risk areas affecting your business now. Periodically audit your company’s practices in the areas that are high on the DOL’s radar. Under the FLSA, those issues include:
2. Comply with posting requirements. The DOL has mandatory posting requirements under a number of laws. These posting requirements can be found on the DOL website. Not only is compliance with the posting requirement simple, but it also will be one less thing to worry about if the DOL decides to conduct an investigation of your company.
3. Take advantage of good policies and safe harbors. Good, compliant handbook policies show the DOL that your company is making an effort to comply with the law and the DOL's regulations. Some policies also can minimize liability. For example, a strong policy that clearly prohibits off-the-clock work and provides a complaint procedure can make a difference when an employee claims that he was required to work outside of his normal hours and was not compensated for it.