DOL’s Latest Regulatory Agenda Highlights Apprenticeship, Affirmative Action, Overtime

In addition to providing updates on numerous OSHA rulemakings and the controversial proposal to narrow the “advice” exemption for persuaders and other labor relations advisors, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released updated timeframes for pending rules addressing apprenticeship, affirmative action and the classification of independent contractors. In addition, the agency laid out for the first time its plan to issue a new proposed rule regarding overtime eligibility.

‘Equal Opportunity' In Apprenticeship
DOL’s Employment Training Administration's (ETA) plans to revise the equal employment opportunity regulatory framework for the National Apprenticeship Act also remains on DOL’s agenda. The proposal would revise the actions construction contractors are required to take to implement affirmative action programs in areas of recruitment, training and apprenticeship. 

ETA aims to release its proposal by September 2014.

Construction-Specific Affirmative Action Requirements
Having finalized its rules drastically altering federal contractors’ existing affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations for individuals with disabilities and veterans in 2013 (the former currently subject to a legal challenge by ABC), DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) now plans to make additional changes to the affirmative action obligations for federal construction contractors. The changes are expected to include an entirely new framework for regulating the industry, and establish a new "mega" class of construction projects.

OFCCP plans to publish a proposed rule by January 2015

In March, President Obama issued a memorandum directing DOL to “modernize and streamline” overtime regulations for executive, administrative, and professional employees and has the potential to affect all employers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the majority of construction contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

While no details have been made public, DOL is believed to be considering an increase in the current overtime regulation’s salary threshold from $24,000 to $50,000. In addition, DOL will likely make significant changes to the current test used to determine whether an employee’s duties and responsibilities exempt him or her from overtime requirements. 

A proposal to implement the president’s directive, which will be issued by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), is expected by November 2014, with no estimated date for finalization.

‘Right To Know:' No Action Planned, But Could Inform 'OT' Proposal
WHD has made no changes to its long-planned “Right to Know” proposal, which is still relegated to “Long-Term Action” (reserved for items under development but for which the agency does not expect to move until the publication of the next semiannual regulatory agenda). The proposal would have required employers to provide written analyses to workers classified as independent contractors and employees deemed to be exempt from overtime under the FLSA.

Although this proposal remains dormant, ABC is concerned that WHD will incorporate aspects of this unpublished rulemaking into its upcoming overtime proposal.

ABC will continue to monitor both these and other rulemakings, and alert members of any developments through Newsline.