Capitol Correspondence - 07.10.17

DOL Announces the Return of Opinion Letters

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On June 27, the Department of Labor sent out a notice saying that it will reinstate the issuance of opinion letters. The letters will be used by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) as one of its methods for providing guidance to covered employers and employees. Letters that contained the official, written opinion by WHD on how a particular law applied in specific circumstances presented by an employer or other entity were issued until 2010, when the DOL made the decision to cease issuing individual guidance letters in favor of general guidance. 

“Reinstating opinion letters will benefit employees and employers as they provide a means by which both can develop a clearer understanding of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other statutes,” said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to helping employers and employees clearly understand their labor responsibilities so employers can concentrate on doing what they do best: growing their businesses and creating jobs.”
The division has established a webpage where the public can see if existing agency guidance already addresses their questions or submit a request for an opinion letter. The webpage explains what to include in the request, where to submit the request, and where to review existing guidance. The division will exercise discretion in determining which requests for opinion letters will be responded to, and the appropriate form of guidance to be issued.