DOL Reinstates Opinion Letters19 Jul 2017
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division is reinstating its policy of issuing opinion letters upon request to provide guidance to employers and employees on the Fair Labor Standards Act and other U.S. labor laws. Per a June 27, 2017 DOL announcement, this program is being reinstated to better help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities.
About Opinion Letters
A DOL opinion letter is an official written explanation of how the law applies in particular circumstances presented by an employer, employee, or other entity. Such letters were routinely issued by the DOL for more than 70 years, until the program was discontinued in 2010. Since then, the DOL has been providing only general guidance in place of opinion letters.
How to Submit a DOL Request
A person or entity may request an opinion letter via a dedicated webpage administered by the DOL. The webpage also allows visitors to see if guidance already exists on a particular issue.
To submit a request, the requestor should include the following:
- The specific statute and regulations about which an opinion is sought
- A description of any relevant facts
- An assurance that the opinion is not sought either by a party in a wage and hour investigation, or by a party to pending litigation concerning the issues contained in the request
- The requestor’s contact information (eMail and phone number)
- The requestor’s signature, if submitted via mail
The request may be submitted by either mail or eMail, and may be withdrawn at any time prior to the issuance of the opinion letter. It is important to note, however, that the DOL has discretion as to which requests to respond to and in what manner the agency may choose to respond.
The reinstatement of opinion letters is positive news for employers and employees seeking clarification on labor-related matters. As explained by the DOL, this service should help “… employers and employees clearly understand their labor responsibilities so employers can concentrate on doing what they do best: growing their businesses and creating jobs.”
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