2018 Regulatory Plan

Executive Summary: Safe and Family-Sustaining 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 works to hold employers 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 and promoting job creation his top priorities. 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 be subject to enforcement.

During the past year, the Department took action to help millions employed by small businesses gain access to quality, affordable health coverage through its Association Health Plan reform. This reform allows employers, including small businesses, and working owners - many of whom are facing much higher premiums and fewer coverage options as a result of Obamacare - a greater ability to join together and gain many of the regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers, and thereby offer better health coverage options to their employees.

In the coming year, the Department will build upon its previous work in providing for workforce protections, protecting the jobs of American workers, and helping the workforce add more family-sustaining 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.

The Department's regulatory actions 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 is silent, the Department does not have the authority to write the law.

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.

The Department's Regulatory Agenda is consistent with the requirements of 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."

The Department's Regulatory Priorities

The Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) works to protect the benefit plans of workers, retirees, and their families.

On August 31, 2018, President Trump issued an executive order establishing the policy of the Federal Government to expand access to workplace retirement plans. Pursuant to the executive order, EBSA will consider ways to permit employees at different businesses to participate in a single workplace plan. EBSA intends to consider ways to allow small businesses to sponsor Association Retirement Plans for their employees. EBSA also intends to consider ways to expand access to workplace plans for sole proprietors, sometimes called working owners. To implement these steps, EBSA is considering issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking that would clarify when separate businesses can elect to jointly sponsor an Association Retirement Plan.

EBSA, in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services will, consistent with Executive Order 13813, consider proposing regulations or revising guidance consistent with law and sound policy to increase the usability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), to expand employers' ability to offer HRAs to their employees, and to allow HRAs to be used in conjunction with nongroup coverage.

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 has been informed by the comments previously received in response to its Request for Information.

WHD will also propose an update to its regulations concerning joint employment, i.e., those situations in which a worker is considered an employee of two or more employers jointly.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay covered employees at least one and one half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek. WHD will propose to amend its regulations to clarify, update, and define regular rate requirements under the FLSA.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) ensures that federal contractors and subcontractors take affirmative action and do not, among other things, discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. OFCCP plans to update its regulations to comply with current law regarding protections for religious organizations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversee 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 that requiring the ancillary provisions broadly may not improve worker protection and may be redundant with overlapping protections in other standards. Accordingly, OSHA sought 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 agency is reviewing the public comments and formulating a final rule.

OSHA issued a proposal on July 30, 2018, to revise provisions of the May 12, 2016, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule. OSHA reviewed the May 2016 final rule as part of its regulatory reform efforts and proposed changes intended to reduce unnecessary burdens while maintaining worker protections. In particular, the proposed rule addresses concerns about the release of private information in the electronic submission of injury and illness reports by employers. Although OSHA stated its intention not to publish personally identifiable information (PII) included on Forms 300 and 301 in the May 2016 final rule, OSHA has now determined that it cannot guarantee the non-release of private information. It has now proposed requiring submission of only the Form 300A summary data, which does not include any private information, not the individual, case-specific data recorded in Forms 300 and 301. If finalized, the rule would allow OSHA to continue to use the summary data to make targeted inspections, while better protecting worker privacy.

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

Finally, 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. ETA and WHD are amending regulations regarding the H-2A non-immigrant visa program. This action will include necessary technical improvements to the existing H-2A regulations, modernizing and streamlining the functionality of the program.