Two years ago today, the U.S. Department of Labor launched the Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI) to complement the Department’s enforcement efforts. OCI works with other agencies across the Department to help employers understand how to comply with our laws and regulations and help workers understand their rights. The goal is to ultimately reduce violations, which frees the Department up to focus its enforcement resources on the truly bad actors.
As we reflect on OCI’s second anniversary, here are five highlights of what we’ve accomplished working with agency partners at the Department.
- Hosted, supported, and promoted 6,000+ events in fiscal year 2019 to educate employers about their responsibilities and to gather feedback about how the Department can support them.
- Engaged more than 54,000 people at those events, and in recent months we’ve interacted with thousands more through our virtual roadshow and online dialogues.
- Reviewed 1,300+ webpages and publications, making sure everything is up to date and easy to understand. That includes key resources like our Worker.gov, Employer.gov, and elaws Advisors websites.
- Launched and led eight internal working groups and communities of practice and held six training sessions to help foster a culture of compliance within the Department – focusing on areas such as plain language, multilingual language access, and human-centered design.
- Created or updated more than 100 compliance assistance tools.
One example of the good work OCI did this past year arose in March 2020, when we partnered with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division and the Office of Disability Employment Policy to launch a national online dialogue, Providing Expanded Family and Medical Leave to Employees Affected by COVID-19. We received over 1,300 questions and ideas from employers, workers, state and local government officials, and other stakeholders related to understanding their responsibilities and rights related to the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
We heard from many stakeholders that they needed an easy-to-use web tool to understand employer coverage and worker eligibility under the new law. We turned this innovative idea into the Wage and Hour Division’s interactive Paid Leave Eligibility Tool, which helps workers determine if they qualify for leave for reasons related to the coronavirus. The web tool already has more than 111,000 views since its launch in late June.
Looking back on the past two years, it is clear that OCI is reaching its key objectives. We’re communicating with business associations and employers. We’re informing employers and workers about their obligations and rights under federal law. We’re fostering a compliance assistance culture within the Department. And we’re conducting analysis to make sure our actions are data-driven.
As we continue to review and improve the Department’s compliance assistance, OCI wants to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what’s working and how we can improve.
S. Marisela Douglass is the Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Compliance Initiatives.