2017 Regulatory Plan

Executive Summary: Good and Safe Jobs

The Department of Labor's mission is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. The Department is guided by the idea that employers must be held accountable for their legal obligations to their employees, while recognizing that the Department also has a duty to help employers understand and comply with the many laws and regulations affecting their workplaces.

The Secretary of Labor has made protecting America's employees a top priority. Under his leadership, the Department is committed to fully and fairly enforcing the laws under its jurisdiction. The vast majority of employers work hard to keep their workplaces safe and to comply with wage and pension laws. Acknowledging this, the Department is working to provide compliance assistance, to give employers the knowledge and tools they need to comply with their obligations in these areas. Compliance with the law is, however, mandatory. Employers that do not comply with the law will continue to see full enforcement.

In addition to providing for workforce protections, the regulatory plan below also includes regulations designed to promote apprenticeship programs, with the goal of providing a way to ensure that workers are receiving the skills they need to get a job. Too many Americans see that jobs are available, but these jobs require skills that they do not have. By expanding apprenticeship programs we can help close this skills gap and route workers directly into good jobs.

The Secretary of Labor's Regulatory Plan for Accomplishing These Objectives

In general, the Department will work to assist employees and employers to meet their needs in a helpful manner, with a minimum of rulemaking.

The Department will roll back regulations that harm American workers and families - but we will do so while respecting the principles and institutions that make us who we are as Americans.

Where regulatory actions are necessary, they will be accomplished in a thoughtful and careful manner. The Department seeks to achieve needed employee protections while limiting the burdens regulations place on employers.

Regulatory actions taken by the Department will provide American employers with certainty about workforce rules. The Department's regulatory plan will make employers' obligations under current law clear, while respecting the rule of law. Where Congress has not spoken, the Department will not intrude.

The proposals that follow are common-sense approaches in areas needing regulatory attention, presenting a balanced plan for protecting employees, aiding them in the acquisition of needed skills, and helping the regulated community to do its part.

Section 1 of Executive Order (EO) 13771 "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs", 82 FR 9339 (January 30, 2017) recognizes that "it is essential to manage costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with Federal Regulations." Consistent with the requirements of EO 13771, the Department's Regulatory Agenda includes 23 deregulatory items. The count of EO 13771 deregulatory regulations excludes non-rulemakings, such as guidance or information collections, that will not appear in the Agenda.

The Department's Regulatory Priorities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees a wide range of standards that are designed to reduce occupational deaths, injuries, and illnesses. OSHA is committed to the establishment of clear, common-sense standards to help accomplish this. The OSHA items discussed below are deregulatory in nature, in that they reduce burden, while maintaining needed worker protections.

OSHA continues its work to protect workers from occupational exposures to Beryllium. Following the publication of a revised Beryllium standard in January 2017, OSHA received evidence that exposure in the shipyards and construction is limited to a few operations and has information suggesting that requiring the ancillary provisions broadly may not improve worker protection and be redundant with overlapping protections in other standards. Accordingly, OSHA is seeking comment on, among other things, whether existing standards covering abrasive blasting in construction, abrasive blasting in shipyards, and welding in shipyards provide adequate protection for workers engaged in these operations. The comment period on OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this subject ended on August 28, 2017. The agency will review the public comments and formulate its plan for next steps.

OSHA intends to issue a proposal to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the May 12, 2016, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule (81 FR 29624). OSHA reviewed the May 2016 final rule as part of its regulatory reform efforts and will propose changes intended to reduce unnecessary burdens while maintaining worker protections. The proposed rule will look at the electronic submission of injury and illness reports by employers. The preamble to the May 2016 final rule pointed to publication of the collected data as a method to improve workplace safety and health through the rule's requirements. OSHA stated its intention not to publish personally identifiable information (PII) included on Forms 300 and 301; OSHA Form 300A does not contain any PII. OSHA has now determined that it cannot guarantee the non-release of personally identifiable information. If OSHA were unable to publish the collected worker injury and illness data because it cannot guarantee the non-release of personally identifiable information, then the potential benefit of improved workplace safety and health through publication of the collected data would not be realized.

OSHA also continues work on its Standards Improvements Projects (SIPs), with the plan to finalize SIP IV next. These are intended to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards. OSHA published three earlier final standards to remove unnecessary provisions, thus reducing costs or paperwork burden on affected employers.

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) administers federal job training and worker dislocation adjustment programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits.

Consistent with Sec. 4 of the President's Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America, ETA will be proposing regulations to establish the framework for industry-recognized apprenticeship programs, a new industry-led initiative to promote innovation and opportunity in apprenticeship, and integrate this initiative with the existing Registered Apprenticeship system.

Finally, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers numerous laws that establish the minimum standards for wages and working conditions in the United States. WHD will propose an updated salary level for the exemption of executive, administrative and professional employees for overtime purposes. In developing the NPRM, the Department will be informed by the comments received in response to its recently published Request for Information (RFI). The comment period on that RFI ended on September 25, 2017, and the agency is now in the process of reviewing these comments and formulating its NPRM.