Fall 2013 Statement of Regulatory Priorities

For over 100 years, the Labor Department has been central to safe guarding and expanding the American Dream for American working families. The Department's Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda supports that mission - specifically, Secretary Perez's goal to develop and implement policies that create opportunity for everyone who wants it. These include policies that provide the opportunities for:

  • Workers to acquire the skills they need to succeed;

  • Employers to have the skilled workforce required to compete in a global economy;

  • Employees to earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work;

  • Veterans to thrive in the civilian economy;

  • Persons with disabilities to contribute productively to the workforce;

  • Improved health benefits and a dignified retirement; and,

  • Safe and healthy work environments, fully protected by anti-discrimination laws.

    This narrative describes several of the Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect, Openness and Transparency, Risk Reduction, and Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction initiatives. The Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda utilizes this combination of approaches as one piece of the strategy to advance the Department's mission and the Secretary's goal.

    Plan/Prevent/Protect. The regulatory actions that comprise the Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect approach are designed to ensure employers and other regulated entities are in full compliance with the law every day, not just when the Department of Labor engages an employer. First announced with the Spring 2010 Regulatory Agenda, this strategy shifts the burden of ensuring compliance from the Department - which cannot and does not want to inspect every workplace - to the regulated entity itself. Employers, unions, and others who follow the Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect strategy will assure compliance with employment laws before Labor Department enforcement personnel ever have to arrive at their doorsteps. Most important, rules published under this strategy will continue to assure that workers get the safe, healthy, diverse, family-friendly, and fair workplaces they deserve. In the Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will propose regulatory actions furthering the Department's implementation of the Plan/Prevent/Protect strategy.

    Openness and Transparency. Greater openness and transparency also continue to be central to the Department's compliance and regulatory strategies. The Fall 2013 Regulatory Plan demonstrates the Department's continued commitment to these two goals, not only as stakeholder engagement strategies, but also an important means to achieve compliance in the regulated community. The Department believes that when employers, workers, advocates, and members of the public have greater access to information concerning workplace conditions and expectations, achieving compliance is not only possible but often also becomes a cooperative exercise. Openness and transparency encourage greater levels of compliance by the regulated community, enhance awareness among workers of their rights and benefits, and provide employers with clear expectations, actionable data, and a level playing field on which to build their businesses.

    Risk Reduction. When the Department identifies specific hazards and risks to worker health, safety, security, or fairness, the Department will utilize its regulatory powers to limit the risk to workers. The Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda includes risk reduction initiatives to address such specific concerns, many of which are discussed in this document.

    Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction. On January 18, 2011, the President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13563 entitled "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review." The E.O. aims to strike the right balance between protecting the health, welfare, safety, and the environment for all Americans - a goal at the core of the Labor Department's mission -- while fostering economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. The Department's Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda also aims to achieve more efficient and less burdensome regulations through a retrospective review of the Labor Department regulations

    In August 2011, as part of a Government wide response to E.O. 13563, the Department published its "Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules." The plan identified several burden-reducing regulatory projects. Projects such as OSHA's Standard Improvement Project - Phase IV (SIP IV) and OSHA's Revising to Record Requirements in the Mechanical Power Presses Standard are both expected to produce savings for the covered community.

    The Department is also taking action to eliminate regulations that are no longer effective or enforceable. This effort has included the removal of obsolete ETA's Job Training Partnership Act program regulations. The effort will continue with the removal of attestation requirements for facilities using nonimmigrant aliens as registered nurses in the H-1A program (authorized by the Immigration Nursing Relief Act of 1999); removal of attestation requirements for employers using F-1 students in off-campus work (authorized by the Immigration Act of 1990); and removal of remove obsolete regulations regarding labor certification process requirements for logging employment and non-H-2A agricultural employment. This agenda includes 13 retrospective review projects.

    Pursuant to section 6 of E.O. 13563, the following Regulatory Identifier Numbers (RINs) are associated with the Department's Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules. More information about completed rulemakings, which are no longer included in the plan, can be found on The original August 2011 DOL Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules and each subsequent update can be found at

    Regulatory Identifier Number

    Title of Rulemaking

    Whether it is Expected to Significantly Reduce Burdens on Small Businesses


    Bloodborne Pathogens



    Standard Improvement Project - Phase IV (SIP IV)



    Review/Lookback of OSHA Chemical Standards

    To Be Determined


    Revising Record Requirements in the Mechanical Power Presses Standard



    Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Amendments



    Criteria and Procedures for Proposed Assessment of Civil Penalties (Part 100)

    To Be Determined


    Sex Discrimination Guidelines

    To Be Determined


    Amendment of Abandoned Plan Program



    Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeship and Training, Amendment of Regulations

    To Be Determined


    Implementation of Total Unemployment Rate Extended Benefits Trigger and Rounding Rule



    Labor Certification Process for Logging Employment and Non-H-2A Agricultural Employment

    No, action will not increase burden to small businesses as regulatory provisions are no longer operative


    Attestations by Employers Using F-1 Students in Off-Campus Work

    No, action will not increase burden to small businesses as regulatory provisions are no longer operative


    Attestations by Facilities Using Nonimmigrant Aliens as Registered Nurses

    No, action will not increase burden to small businesses as regulatory provisions are no longer operative

    The Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect, Openness and Transparency, and Risk Reduction initiatives work in concert with its implementation of E.O. 13563. These regulations strengthen protections for workers while maintaining flexibility for businesses to comply. By requiring employers and other regulated entities to take full ownership of their compliance with clearly defined Department regulations; by promoting greater openness and transparency for employers and workers alike; and by encouraging regulated entities to adopt a strategy that includes planning and prevention, the Labor Department believes it can increase compliance with its regulations across all regulated entities. The increased effectiveness of this compliance strategy will enable the Department to create opportunity -- both for businesses to comply in the way that is most efficient, least burdensome, and in line with their existing business practices, and for workers to labor in safe and healthy environments. A discussion of several of these initiatives follows.

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    OSHA's regulatory program is designed to help workers and employers identify hazards in the workplace, prevent the occurrence of injuries and adverse health effects, and communicate with the regulated community regarding hazards and how to effectively control them. Long-recognized health hazards and emerging hazards that place American workers at risk of serious injury, illness, and death are the focus of several initiatives on OSHA's regulatory agenda. In addition to targeting specific hazards, OSHA is focusing on proposing changes to systematic processes that would modernize the culture of safety in America's workplaces. OSHA continues work on its retrospective review projects that when completed will both update outdated regulations and reduce burdens on regulated employers. OSHA's retrospective review projects include consideration of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, updating consensus standard references in OSHA standards, phase IV of OSHA's standard improvement project (SIP IV), and reviewing Permissible Exposure Limits of various hazardous chemicals.

    OSHA Plan/Prevent/Protect Initiatives

  • Infectious Diseases. OSHA is considering the need for regulatory action to address the risk to workers exposed to infectious diseases in healthcare and other related high-risk environments. Healthcare workplaces can range from small private practices of physicians to hospitals that employ thousands of workers. In addition, healthcare is increasingly being provided in other settings such as nursing homes, free-standing surgical and outpatient centers, emergency care clinics, patients' homes, and pre-hospitalization emergency care settings. OSHA is concerned with the movement of healthcare delivery from the traditional hospital setting, with its greater infrastructure and resources to effectively implement infection control measures, into more diverse and smaller workplace settings with less infrastructure and fewer resources, but with an expanding worker population.

    OSHA is interested in all routes of infectious disease transmission in healthcare settings not already covered by its bloodborne pathogens standard (e.g. contact, droplet, and airborne routes of transmission.) The agency is particularly concerned by studies that indicate that transmission of infectious diseases to both patients and healthcare workers may be occurring as a result of incomplete adherence to recognized, but voluntary, infection control measures and is considering an approach that would combine elements of the Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect strategy with established infection control practices. The agency received strong stakeholder participation in response to its May 2010 request for information and July 2011 stakeholder meetings on this topic.

  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program. OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program is the prototype for the Department's Plan/Prevent/Protect strategy. OSHA's first step in this important rulemaking was to hold four well attended stakeholder meetings across the country. The proposed rule will explore requiring employers to provide their employees with opportunities to participate in the development and implementation of an injury and illness prevention program, including a systematic process to proactively and continuously address workplace safety and health hazards. This rule will involve planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that promote worker safety and health hazards. OSHA has substantial evidence showing that employers who have implemented similar injury and illness prevention programs have reduced significantly injuries and illnesses in their workplaces. The new rule would build on OSHA's existing Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines and lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices that have been applied by companies participating in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, and similar industry and international initiatives.

    OSHA Openness and Transparency Initiatives

  • Modernizing Recordkeeping. OSHA held informal meetings to gather information from experts and stakeholders regarding the modification of its current injury and illness data collection system that will help the agency, employers, employees, researchers, and the public prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Under the proposed rule, OSHA will explore requiring employers to submit electronically to the Agency data required by its part 1904 regulations governing the Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries. OSHA learned from stakeholders that most large employers already maintain their part 1904 data electronically. As a result, electronic submission will constitute only a minimal additional burden on these employers, while providing a wealth of data to help OSHA, employers, employees, researchers, and the public prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. The proposed rule would not add to or change the recording criteria or definitions in part 1904. The proposed rule would only modify employers' obligations to transmit information from these records to OSHA.

  • Whistleblower Protection Regulations. The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their legal rights without fear of retaliation is essential to many of the legal protections and safeguards that all Americans value. Whether the goal is the safety of our food, drugs, or workplaces, the integrity of our financial system, or the security of our transportation systems, whistleblowers have been essential to ensuring that our laws are fully and fairly executed. In the Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda, OSHA proposes to issue procedural rules that will establish consistent and transparent procedures for the filing of whistleblower complaints under seven statutes. These procedural rules will strengthen OSHA's enforcement of its whistleblower program by providing specific timeframes and guidance for filing a complaint with OSHA, issuing a finding, avenues of appeal, and allowable remedies.

    OSHA Risk Reduction Initiatives

  • Silica. OSHA has announced a proposed rule aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers. The proposal seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands more each year. Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually. Reducing these hazardous exposures through promulgation and enforcement of a comprehensive health standard will contribute to OSHA's goal of reducing occupational fatalities and illnesses. As a part of the Secretary's strategy for securing safe and healthy work environments, MSHA will also utilize information provided by OSHA to undertake regulatory action related to silica exposure in mines.

  • Preventing Backover Injuries and Fatalities. According to the Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, backing accidents caused at least 75 occupational deaths in 2011. Emerging technologies that address the risks of backing operations include cameras, radar, and sonar-to help view or detect the presence of workers on foot in blind areas-and new monitoring technology, such as tag-based warning systems that use radio frequency (RFID) and magnetic field generators on equipment to detect electronic tags worn by workers. OSHA is collecting information on this hazard and researching emerging technologies that may help reduce this risk. OSHA published an RFI on March 27, 2012 seeking information from the public; the comment period ended on July 27, 2012. The Agency has held stakeholder meetings in Washington, DC and Arlington, TX, and is also conducting site visits to employers.

  • Reinforced Concrete in Construction. Currently, workers performing steel reinforcing suffer injuries caused by unsafe material handling, structural collapse, and impalement by protruding reinforcing steel dowels, among others. OSHA IMIS data indicates that 31 workers died while performing work on or near post-tensioning operations or reinforcing steel between 2000 and 2009. Current rules regarding reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities may not adequately address hazards facing workers engaged in these activities. OSHA has published an RFI seeking information about the hazards associated with reinforcing operations in construction.

    OSHA Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction Initiatives

  • Bloodborne Pathogens. OSHA will undertake a review of the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard in accordance with the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, section 5 of Executive Order 12866, and E.O. 13563. The review will consider the continued need for the rule; whether the rule overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other Federal, State or local regulations; and the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors may have changed since the rule wasimplemented.

  • Standard Improvement Project-- Phase IV (SIP IV). OSHA's Standards Improvement Projects (SIPs) are intended to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards. The Agency has published three earlier final standards to remove unnecessary provisions, thus reducing costs or paperwork burden on affected employers without diminishing employee protections. OSHA has published an RFI in the Federal Register asking the public for candidate ideas for improvements in its construction safety standards (77 FR 72781: December 6, 2012). Candidate ideas were presented to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health at its May and August 2013 meetings.

  • Review-Lookback of OSHA Chemical Standards. The majority of OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) were adopted in 1971 under section 6(a) of the

    OSH Act, and only a few have been successfully updated since that time. There is widespread agreement among industry, labor, and professional occupational safety and health organizations that OSHA's PELs are outdated and need revising to reflect newer scientific data that indicate that significant occupational health risks exist at levels below OSHA's current PELs. As part of the Department's Regulatory Review and Lookback Efforts, OSHA is developing a Request for Information (RFI), seeking input from the public to help the Agency identify effective ways to address occupational exposure to chemicals.

    Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

    The Department believes that every worker has a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Workers should never have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihood. All workers deserve to come home to their families at the end of their shift safe and whole. MSHA's approach to reducing workplace fatalities and injuries includes promulgating and enforcing mandatory health and safety standards. MSHA's retrospective review project under E.O.13563 addresses revising the process for proposing civil penalties.

    MSHA Plan/Prevent/Protect Initiatives

  • Proximity Detection Systems for Continuous Mining Machines in Underground Coal Mines. From 1984 to 2012, there have been 33 fatalities resulting from pinning, crushing or striking accidents involving continuous mining machines. Proximity detection technology can prevent these types of accidents. Proximity detection systems can be installed on mining machinery to detect the presence of personnel or equipment within a certain distance of the machine. MSHA published a proposed rule to address the danger that miners face when working near continuous mining machines in underground coal mines. The rule would strengthen the protection for underground miners by reducing the potential for pinning, crushing, or striking hazards associated with working close to continuous mining machines.

  • Proximity Detection Systems for Mobile Machines in Underground Mines. MSHA plans to publish a proposed rule to require underground mine operators to equip certain mobile machines, with proximity detection systems. Miners working near mobile machines face pinning, crushing, and striking hazards that have resulted, and continue to result, in accidents involving life threatening injuries and death. Proximity detection technology can prevent these types of accidents by detecting the presence of personnel or equipment within a certain distance of the machine. The proposal would strengthen protections for miners by reducing the potential for pinning, crushing, or striking accidents in underground mines.

    MSHA Risk Reduction Initiatives

  • Lowering Miners' Exposure to Coal Mine Dust, including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors. MSHA will continue its regulatory action related to preventing Black Lung disease. Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate increased prevalence of coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP) "clusters" in several geographical areas, particularly in the Southern Appalachian Region. MSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to address continued risk to coal miners from exposure to respirable coal mine dust. This regulatory action is part of MSHA's Comprehensive Black Lung Reduction Strategy for reducing miners' exposure to respirable dust. This strategy includes enhanced enforcement, education and training, and health outreach and collaboration.

  • Regulatory Actions in Response to Recommendations Resulting From the Investigation of the Upper Big Branch Explosion. On April 5, 2010, a massive coal dust explosion occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Following the explosion, MSHA conducted its investigation under the authority of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, for the purpose of obtaining, using, and disseminating information relating to the causes of accidents. The accident report included recommendations for regulatory actions to prevent a recurrence of this type of accident. MSHA also conducted an internal review (IR) into the Agency's actions leading to the explosion. The IR report also included recommendations for regulatory actions. In response to the recommendations, MSHA expects to address issues associated with rock dusting, ventilation, the operator's responsibility for certain mine examinations and certified persons.

  • Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard. The Agency's regulatory actions demonstrate its commitment to protecting the most vulnerable populations while assuring broad-based compliance. Health hazards are pervasive in both coal and metal/nonmetal mines, including surface and underground mines and large and small mines. Overexposure to crystalline silica can result in some miners developing silicosis, an irreversible but preventable lung disease, which ultimately may be fatal. In its proposed rule, MSHA plans to follow the recommendations of the Secretary of Labor's Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers, the NIOSH, and other groups to address the exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica. As an example of intra-departmental collaboration, MSHA intends to consider OSHA's work on the health effects of occupational exposure to silica and OSHA's risk assessment in developing the appropriate standard for the mining industry.

    MSHA Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction Initiative

  • Criteria and Procedures for Proposed Assessment of Civil Penalties (Part 100). MSHA plans to publish a proposed rule to revise the process for proposing civil penalties. The assessment of civil penalties is a key component in MSHA's strategy to enforce safety and health standards. The Congress intended that the imposition of civil penalties would induce mine operators to be proactive in their approach to mine safety and health, and take necessary action to prevent safety and health hazards before they occur. MSHA believes that the procedures for assessing civil penalties can be revised to improve the efficiency of the Agency's efforts and to facilitate the resolution of enforcement issues.

    Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

    Through the work of OFCCP, DOL ensures that contractors and subcontractors doing business with the Federal Government provide equal employment opportunity and take affirmative action to create fair and diverse workplaces. OFCCP also combats discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran by ensuring that federal contractors recruit, hire, train, promote, terminate, and compensate workers in a nondiscriminatory manner. DOL, through OFCCP, protects workers, promotes diversity and enforces civil rights laws.

    OFCCP Plan/Prevent/Protect Initiative

  • Construction Contractor Affirmative Action Requirements. 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 existing regulations provide that the Director is to issue goals and timetables for the utilization of minorities and women based on appropriate workforce, demographic or other relevant data. The existing minority goals for construction were issued in 1980 based on 1970 Census data, the most current data available at the time. The goals for the utilization of women in construction occupations were issued in 1978, and extended indefinitely in 1980, were also developed using 1970 Census data. The proposed rule would remove these outdated goals and provide contractors increased flexibility to assess their workforce and determine whether disparities in the utilization of women or the utilization of a particular racial or ethnic group in an on-site construction job group exist. The proposed rule would also provide contractors and subcontractors the tools to assess their progress and appropriately tailor their affirmative action plans. The proposed rule would strengthen affirmative action programs particularly in the areas of recruitment, training, and apprenticeships. The proposed rule would also allow contractors and subcontractors to focus on their affirmative action obligations earlier in the contracting process.

    OFCCP Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction Initiative

  • Sex Discrimination Guidelines. OFCCP proposes updating regulations setting forth contractors' obligations not to discriminate on the basis of sex under Executive Order 11246, as amended. The Sex Discrimination Guidelines, found at 41 CFR Part 60-20, have not been updated in more than 30 years. Since that time, the nature and extent of women's participation in the labor force and employer policies and practices have changed significantly. In addition, extensive changes in the law regarding sex-based employment discrimination have taken place. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which generally governs the law of sex-based employment discrimination, has been amended twice. OFCCP will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to create sex discrimination regulations that reflect the current state of the law in this area.

    Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

    The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is responsible for administering and enforcing the fiduciary, reporting and disclosure, and health coverage provisions of title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This includes recent amendments and additions to ERISA enacted in the Pension Protection Act of 2006, as well as new health coverage provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the Affordable Care Act). EBSA's regulatory plan initiatives are intended to improve health benefits and retirement security for workers in every type of job at every income level. EBSA is charged with protecting approximately 141 million individuals covered by an estimated 701,000 private retirement plans, 2.3 million health plans, and similar numbers of other welfare benefit plans, which together hold $7.3 trillion in assets.

    EBSA will continue to issue guidance implementing the health reform provisions of the Affordable Care Act to help provide better quality health care for America's workers and their families. EBSA's regulations reduce discrimination in health coverage, promote better access to quality coverage, and protect the ability of individuals and businesses to keep their current health coverage. Many regulations are joint rulemakings with the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury.

    Using regulatory changes to produce greater openness and transparency is an integral part of EBSA's contribution to a department-wide compliance strategy. These efforts will not only enhance EBSA's enforcement toolbox but will also encourage greater levels of compliance by the regulated community and improve awareness among workers of their rights and benefits. EBSA's Fall 2013 agenda expands disclosure requirements, substantially enhancing the availability of information to employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries and employers, and strengthening the retirement security of America's workers. EBSA's retrospective review project under E.O.13563 is the Abandoned Plan Program amendments.

    EBSA Risk Reduction Initiative

  • Health Reform Implementation. Since the passage of health care reform, EBSA has helped put the employment-based health provisions into action. Working with HHS and Treasury, EBSA has issued regulations covering issues such as the elimination of preexisting condition exclusions for children under age 19, internal and external appeals of benefit denials, the extension of coverage for children up to age 26, and a ban on rescissions (which are retroactive terminations of health care coverage). These regulations will eventually impact up to 129 million individuals in employer-sponsored plans. EBSA will continue its work to ensure a smooth implementation of the legislation's market reforms, minimize disruption to existing plans and practices, and strengthen America's health care system.

  • Enhancing Participant Protections by Reducing Conflicts of Interest. EBSA plans to re-propose amendments to its regulations to reduce harmful conflicts of interest by clarifying the circumstances under which a person will be considered a "fiduciary" when providing investment advice to retirement plans and other employee benefit plans, to participants and beneficiaries of such plans, and to owners of individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The amendments would consider current practices of investment advisers and the expectations of plan officials and participants who receive investment advice, as well as changes that have occurred in the investment marketplace and in the ways advisers are compensated since the current regulation's issuance. These compensation arrangements frequently subject advisers to harmful conflicts of interest that can compromise the quality of advice given to plan participants and IRA owners. This initiative is intended to assure retirement security for workers in all jobs regardless of income level by ensuring that financial advisers and similar persons are required to meet ERISA's standards of care and not to act on conflicts of interest when providing the investment advice relied upon by millions of plan sponsors and workers.

    EBSA Openness and Transparency Initiative

    In addition to its health care reform and participant protection initiatives discussed above, EBSA is pursuing a regulatory program that, as reflected in the Unified Agenda, is designed to encourage, foster, and promote openness, transparency, and communication with respect to the management and operations of pension plans, as well as participant rights and benefits under such plans. Among other things, EBSA will be issuing a final rule addressing the requirement that administrators of defined benefit pension plans annually disclose the funding status of their plan to the plan's participants and beneficiaries (RIN l210-AB18). In addition, EBSA will be finalizing amendments to the disclosure requirements applicable to plan investment options, including Qualified Default Investment Alternatives, to better ensure that participants understand the operations and risks associated with investments in target date funds (RIN 1210-AB38).

  • Lifetime Income Options. In 2010 EBSA published a request for information concerning steps it can take by regulation, or otherwise, to encourage the offering of lifetime annuities or similar lifetime benefit distribution options for participants and beneficiaries of defined contribution plans. EBSA also held a hearing with the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service to further explore these possibilities. This initiative is intended to assure retirement security for workers in all jobs regardless of income level by helping to ensure that participants and beneficiaries have the benefit of their plan savings throughout retirement. EBSA now has established a public record that supports further consideration or action in a number of areas including pension benefit statements, participant education, and fiduciary guidance. With regard to pension benefit statements specifically, EBSA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking under ERISA section 105 relating to the presentation of a participant's accrued benefits; i.e., the participant's account balance, as a lifetime income stream of payments, in addition to presenting the benefits as an account balance(RIN 1210:AB20). In further support of this initiative, EBSA also is developing proposed amendments to a safe harbor regulation (29 CFR section 2550.404a-4) that will provide plan fiduciaries with more certainty that they have discharged their obligations under section 404(a)(1)(B) of ERISA in selecting an annuity plan provider and contract for benefit distributions from an individual account retirement plan (RIN: 1210-AB58).

    EBSA Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction Initiative

  • Abandoned Plan Program Amendment. In 2006, the Department published regulations that facilitate the termination and winding up of 401(k)-type retirement plans that have been abandoned by their plan sponsors. The regulation establishes a streamlined program under which plans are terminated with very limited involvement of EBSA regional offices. EBSA has six years of experience with this program and believes certain changes would improve the efficiency of the program and increase its usage. EBSA expects that the cost burden reduction that will result from this initiative will be approximately $500,000 because the prompt, efficient termination of abandoned plans will eliminate future administrative expenses charged to the plans that otherwise would diminish plan assets. Moreover, by following the specific standards and procedures set forth in the rule, the Department expects that overall plan termination costs will be reduced because of increased efficiency.

    EBSA intends to revise the regulations to expand the program to include plans of businesses in liquidation proceedings to reflect recent changes in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Department believes that this expansion has the potential to substantially reduce burdens on these plans and bankruptcy trustees. Plans of businesses in liquidation currently do not have the option of using the streamlined termination and winding-up procedures under the program. This is true even though bankruptcy trustees, pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code, can have a legal duty to administer the plan. Expanding the program to cover these plans will allow eligible bankruptcy trustees to use the streamlined termination process to better discharge their obligations under the law. The use of streamlined procedures will reduce the amount of time and overall cost it would take to terminate and wind up such plans. This will result in larger benefit distributions to participants and beneficiaries in such plans. The expansion also will eliminate government filings ordinarily required of terminating plans. Participation in the program will reduce the overall cost of terminating and winding-up such plans, which will result in larger benefit distributions to participants and beneficiaries in such plans. EBSA estimates that approximately 165 additional plans will benefit from the Amended Abandoned Plan Program allowing bankruptcy trustees to participate in the program. The amendment expanding the program will provide substantial benefits to plans of sponsors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation and bankruptcy trustees through the orderly termination of plans, less service provider fees, and preservation of assets for participants and beneficiaries, while imposing minimal costs.

    Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)

    The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) administers and enforces most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The LMRDA promotes labor-management transparency by requiring unions, employers, labor-relations consultants, and others to file reports, which are publicly available. The LMRDA includes provisions protecting union member rights to participate in their union's governance, to run for office and fully exercise their union citizenship, as well as procedural safeguards to ensure free and fair union elections. Besides enforcing these provisions, OLMS also ensures the financial accountability of unions, their officers and employees, through enforcement and voluntary compliance efforts. Because of these activities, OLMS better ensures that workers have a more effective voice in the governance of their unions, which in turn affords them a more effective voice in their workplaces. OLMS also administers Executive Order 13496, which requires Federal contractors to notify their employees concerning their rights to organize and bargain collectively under Federal labor laws. OLMS also implements a federal transportation law by ensuring that workplace rights of mass transit employees will be protected whenever federal funds are used to acquire, improve, or operate a transit system.

    OLMS Openness and Transparency

  • Persuader Agreements - Employer and Labor Relations Consultant Reporting under the LMRDA. OLMS published a proposed regulatory initiative in June 2011, which is a transparency regulation intended to provide workers with information critical to their effective participation in the workplace. The proposed regulations would better implement the public disclosure objectives of the LMRDA in situations where an employer engages a consultant in order to persuade employees concerning their rights to organize and bargain collectively. Under LMRDA section 203, an employer must report any agreement or arrangement with a consultant to persuade employees concerning their rights to organize and collectively bargain, or to obtain certain information concerning activities of employees or a labor organization in connection with a labor dispute involving the employer. The consultant is also required to report such an agreement or arrangement with an employer. Statutory exceptions to these reporting requirements are set forth in LMRDA section 203(c), which provides, in part, that employers and consultants are not required to file a report by reason of the consultant's giving or agreeing to give "advice" to the employer. The Department in its proposal reconsidered the current policy concerning the scope of the "advice" exception. When workers have the necessary information about arrangements that have been made by their employer to persuade them whether or not to form, join, or assist a union, they are better able to make a more informed choice about representation.

    Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

    The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) administers and oversees programs that prepare workers for good jobs at good wages by providing high quality job training, employment, labor market information, and income maintenance services through its national network of American Job Centers. The programs within ETA promote ladders of opportunity to economic independence for individuals and families. Through several laws, ETA is charged with administering numerous employment and training programs designed to assist the American worker in developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities sought in the 21st century's economy.

    ETA Regulatory Review and Burden Reduction

  • Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeship and Training, Amendment of Regulations. The revision of the National Apprenticeship Act's Equal Opportunity in Apprenticeship and Training (EEO) regulations is a critical element in the Department's vision to promote and expand registered apprenticeship opportunities, and to meet the changing workforce, demographic and industry needs. The regulation will help eliminate much of the uncertainty around the current regulations; simplifying outdated procedures and requirements, while establishing clearer expectations with regard to EEO on behalf of apprenticeship sponsors. In October 2008, ETA issued a final rule updating 29 CFR part 29, the regulatory framework for registration of apprenticeship programs and apprentices, and administration of the National Apprenticeship System. The companion EEO regulations, 29 CFR part 30, have not been amended since 1978, and the proposed regulation will provide consistency with Federal EEO laws developed over the last 35 years. ETA proposes to update part 30 EEO in the Apprenticeship and Training regulations to ensure that they act in concert with the 2008 revised part 29 rule. The proposed EEO regulations also will further Secretary Perez's vision to create more opportunities for everyone by ensuring that apprenticeship program sponsors develop and fully implement nondiscrimination and affirmative action efforts that provide equal opportunity for all applicants to apprenticeship and apprentices, regardless of race, gender, national origin, color, religion, or disability.

  • Federal-State Unemployment Compensation Program; Implementing the Total Unemployment Rate As An Extended Benefits Indicator and Amending For Technical Corrections. This rule will update regulations to conform to existing law and State practice. It will benefit State Unemployment Insurance systems by removing any potential confusion between complying with guidance and current Federal law.

  • Elimination of several obsolete program regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations. ETA plans to pursue four regulatory projects that will eliminate regulations that are no longer effective or enforceable because their underlying program authority was superseded or no longer exists. These include the Labor Certification Process for Logging Employment and Non-H-2A Agricultural Employment (RIN 1205-AB65), Attestations by Employers Using F-1 Students in Off-Campus Work (RIN 1205-AB66), and Attestations by Facilities Using Nonimmigrant Aliens as Registered Nurses (RIN 1205-AB67).