The Department of Labor Releases Fall 2013 Statement of Regulatory Priorities

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On November 26, 2013, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Fall 2013 Statement of Regulatory Priorities which identified the Department’s priorities and primary activities for the coming year.  The statement highlighted the DOL’s various initiatives including:  Plan/Prevent/Protect, Openness and Transparency, Risk Reduction, and Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction.  According to the DOL, these initiatives are designed to require employers and other regulated entities to take full ownership of their compliance with clearly defined Department regulations; promote greater openness and transparency for employers and workers alike; and encourage regulated entities to adopt a strategy that includes planning and prevention, thereby increasing compliance with its regulations across all regulated entities.

As part of its Plan/Prevent/Protect initiative, which was first introduced in the DOL’s spring 2010 regulatory agenda, the DOL will focus on the following areas through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):  (1) infectious diseases, (2) injury and illness prevention, (3)  electronic recordkeeping, and (4) whistleblower protection.  In addition, the DOL will work with OSHA on a variety of safety standards. 

Through the work of the  Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the DOL seeks to ensure that contractors and subcontractors doing business with the Federal Government provide equal employment opportunity and take affirmative action to create fair and diverse workplaces.  As part of the current Plan/Prevent/Protect efforts, in 2014 the OFCCP plans to publish a proposed rule that would enhance the effectiveness of the affirmative action programs of Federal and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors.  The OFCCP also proposes to update regulations setting forth contractors’ obligations not to discriminate on the basis of sex under Executive Order 11246, as amended.

The DOL’s Statement of Regulatory Priorities also highlighted various efforts through its Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), and Employment and Training Administration (ETA).  A copy of the full report can be found here.  Employers should continue to stay abreast of these agency initiatives as they likely signal key enforcement areas for 2014.