Helping Small Businesses Comply With Labor Laws

The Department of Labor is launching a new initiative to help employers navigate the "regulatory jungle" and do a better job of protecting employees, says Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

The goal of the initiative is to help employers better understand and meet their responsibilities to protect workers under the nation's labor laws and regulations. The new policy, announced in a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, will provide small businesses with better knowledge and tools to help them achieve compliance with hundreds of thousands of pages of federal regulations and laws.

"We are going to help make sense of the regulatory jungle that small business owners have to comply with, because that is the best way to make worker protections work," said Chao. "There is a new culture of responsibility being built at the Department of Labor - a responsibility for us to help business owners understand our exhaustive list of regulations."

As part of the plan, Chao announced a new, permanent, senior position at the Department of Labor - Director of Compliance Assistance. The new director will ensure that all of the department's agencies are doing what they can to help employers comply with regulations.

Chao also announced that OSHA is creating an office dedicated to small business, and that the Wage and Hour Division will make its field operations handbook - the guide that tells inspectors what to look for in businesses - publicly available.

A new toll-free information line, 1-866-4-USA-DOL, will provide clear answers to questions about laws dealing with pay and leave, workplace safety, health and pension benefits and veterans' reemployment rights. Information is also available through the E-Laws Web site at E-Laws provides answers to frequently asked questions and includes links to all Department of Labor agencies and regional offices.

"The idea that the government ought to provide small businesses with the knowledge and tools help people comply with its regulations should be a top priority of the Department of Labor, and it is an idea whose time has come," said Chao.

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