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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Feb. 1 requested a fiscal year 2011 discretionary budget of $13.98 billion that includes an increase in oversight of wage and hour rules and occupational safety and health laws in addition to funding an initiative to crack down on misclassification of independent contractors.  

Under the FY 2011 budget, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would get $573 million, an increase of $14 million from FY 2010.  OSHA plans to significantly decrease funding for its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and shift 35 workers from cooperative safety programs to enforcement.  

“We recognize that VPP companies do an excellent job; OSHA resources need to be focused on employers who don't understand the importance of protecting their workers, particularly small employers,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA assistant secretary. 

As part of an initiative between DOL and the U.S. Treasury, $25 million of DOL’s budget will be dedicated to strengthening and coordinating federal and state efforts to identify and deter misclassification of independent contractors.  A portion of OSHA’s budget also will be used to modify training curriculum and investigation guidelines to allow inspectors to indentify potential misclassifications.  The Wage and Hour Division will hire 90 additional inspectors to focus on misclassifications during targeted investigations. 

“The goal is to improve capacity to identify misclassification through increased information sharing and targeted audits in high-risk industry sectors,” said Jane Oates, assistant secretary at DOL’s Employment and Training Administration. “These efforts will prevent misclassification, increase statutory enforcement where appropriate, and enable collection of payroll taxes previously lost due to misclassification, such as in the Unemployment Insurance program.” 

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