Hiring Freeze May Put Wage Enforcement on Ice

February 17, 2017

Bloomberg.com's BNA report says the Trump administration's January 23 executive order to freeze all hiring may create an unforeseen problem that will affect DOL wage and labor enforcement.

The DOL hasn’t disclosed how it will implement President Donald Trump’s Jan. 23 executive order to halt hiring, nor has the department said how its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will be prioritized in the next budget. Still, former WHD officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations say the freeze could create a problem if WHD investigators and their supervisors flee en masse and the agency can’t fill vacancies.

In construction, recent issues including overtime regulations, increased OSHA penalties, and employee misclassification investigations could be affected.

“I think the WHD does need to have a vibrant complement of investigators to be an effective protector of the workplace, both for employers and employees,” Alfred Robinson, an acting WHD administrator under President George W. Bush, told Bloomberg BNA. “You have to be careful that the hiring freeze doesn’t compromise” the division, Robinson said.

A shortage of WHD investigators, due to either a freeze or perceived poor work environment, can compromise the division's effectiveness and allow companies to mistreat employees.

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