June 27, 2017

DOL Reinstitutes Use of Opinion Letters

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it will return to the practice of issuing opinion letters to provide guidance to employers and employees on questions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

After 70 years, the DOL stopped issuing opinion letters in 2010 in favor of issuing more broad policy statements known as “Administrator’s Interpretations” – two of which were recently withdrawn.

According to a DOL news release, “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 U.S. Secretary of Labor 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.”

An opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Wage and Hour Division of how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by an employer, employee or other entity requesting the opinion.  

“This is a welcome announcement for employers and employees alike. Western Growers is pleased that Secretary Acosta has resumed the DOL’s long-standing practice of issuing opinion letters. These letters give extremely useful agency guidance on often complex wage and hour issues,” said Jason Resnick, Vice President and General Counsel for Western Growers.

The Wage & Hour 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.

For more information, please contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.