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eLABORate: Employers Welcome the Return of DOL Wage and Hour Opinion Letters

June 27, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it will reinstate the issuance of opinion letters by its Wage and Hour Division. The announcement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is a welcome development for employers, who had previously relied on these interpretive opinions in deciphering and complying with the oftentimes confusing requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

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. The letters were a Division practice for more than 70 years until being discontinued in 2009 during the previous administration, and replaced in 2010 by more generalized interpretations, as opposed to the highly fact specific opinion letters. 

“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 Secretary 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 Wage and Hours Division has established a webpage where employers can request an opinion letter or review other agency guidance regarding FLSA compliance.