More than wages, hours

25 April 2019

This article was featured in the May 2019 issue of the magazine.

Gretchen Inouye CPP, payroll consultant and the APA’s 2015 Payroll Woman of the Year, explains the extent and scope of the USA’s DoL

Payroll professionals are generally familiar with the US Department of Labor (DoL) through the Wage and Hour Division’s enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, there are over 180 laws subject to DoL enforcement through the work of its various departments, commissions, boards, and other regulatory bodies. 

The common link to most of the major laws is the employment of workers, which may directly affect payroll in the areas of administration and internal and external reporting. Investigations, audits, and assessments are primary enforcement tools. Some of the major agencies and programs are as follows.

  • Wage and Hour Division – enforces the FLSA and administers the Family and Medical Leave Act, the garnishment of wages under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, government contract acts (the Davis-Bacon Act, the Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act, the Service Contract Act, etc), and other labor standards provisions. (

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – collects and distributes labor statistics on labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and other economic information. The precursor to the DoL and served the only function for decades before the DoL was created. The Multiple Worksite Report required or requested by the states is a primary source of information. (

  • Employee Benefits Security Administration – administers the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which regulates employer-provided pension and welfare benefit plans including medical plans. It also covers requirements for benefits continuation under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and health care portability under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Funding for retirement plans is made by premium payments to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (see below). The Benefits Review Board also connects with the EBSA (see below).  (

  • Benefits Review Board – reviews and issues decisions on appeals of workers’ compensation claims arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Black Lung Benefits amendments to the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. (

  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation – protects the retirement incomes of more than forty million American workers in nearly 24,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. (

  • Employment and Training Administration – contributes to job training, employment, income maintenance services, and workforce development programs. Works with state unemployment and workforce agencies to certify that the state programs and regulations meet standards in administration, reporting, and unemployment benefits. It receives annual reports from states certifying which employers have paid their state unemployment contributions in full on a timely basis; these reports impact Federal Unemployment Tax Act tax compliance and credits. (

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration – regulates the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which covers safety and health conditions in most private industries, and also covers public sector employers in conjunction with approved state plans. Its enforcement focus is on workplace inspections to help ensure hazard-free workplaces; and it enforces whistleblower protections in most laws. (

  • Office of Labor-Management Standards – administers and enforces the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, promoting labor union and labor-management transparency through reporting and disclosure requirements by both sides of the relationship. (

  • Veterans’ Employment and Training Service – provides compliance assistance regarding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act as well as programs for military veterans. (

  • Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs – administers four major disability compensation programs. It doesn’t have state program jurisdiction. (

Employers are generally required to post accessible information on many of these laws for the benefit of employees.

These agencies and laws are a sample of the broad areas of enforcement and authority of the DOL. Additional information can be found on its website,, and in the APA’s The Payroll Source®, (section 2: Federal and State Wage-Hour Laws). 


This article was published in the December 2018 issue of the American Payroll Association’s PayTech magazine. 

The APA,, is the USA’s leader in payroll education, publications, and training. This nonprofit association conducts more than 300 payroll training conferences and seminars across the country each year and publishes a complete library of resource texts and newsletters. Representing more than 21,000 members, APA is the industry’s highly respected and collective voice in Washington, D.C.

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