Job programs, misclassification initiative among DOL budget priorities

April 11, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new budget request pushes programs to help veterans and the long-term unemployed while continuing priorities from previous years, including efforts to fight misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

The DOL’s fiscal year 2014 budget requests $12.1 billion in discretionary funding—money Acting Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris said will be used for investments to create jobs, upgrade workers’ skills, and “make sure Americans can support their families with a decent wage and secure benefits.”

Continuing a priority of previous years, the department’s 2014 budget request seeks nearly $14 million to combat misclassification of workers as independent contractors. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has placed great urgency on misclassification in recent years, and employers can expect that emphasis to continue as more money is sought for the initiative.

Another priority of the 2014 budget request is to modernize the federal job-training system and create employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youth. The DOL said the requested budget “devotes significant resources to putting our veterans, particularly those with disabilities or other significant barriers to employment, back to work.” The funding also would go toward services to help newly separated servicemembers transition to civilian careers.

The budget also proposes a new Universal Displaced Worker Program designed to reach more than one million workers a year with core services. That program is to replace two more narrowly targeted programs.

The budget request provides $150 million for a competitive Workforce Innovation Fund to test workforce development strategies and reforms coming from states and localities. Of that, $50 million is to be used to identify strategies to help veterans, military family members, and members of the National Guard and reserves, and $10 million is to help disconnected youth.

Here are some more highlights from the budget request:

  • An additional $5.9 million to bolster the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) enforcement of safety laws;
  • An additional $3.4 million for the WHD to support greater enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and
  • $5 million for the creation of a State Paid Leave Fund to assist workers who need to take time off to care for a child or other family member.

Also, the budget request includes an additional $5.8 million for Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforcement programs aimed at preventing death, disease, and injuries from mining. Another $2.5 million would go toward implementing recommendations from the internal review conducted in the wake of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.

Finally, the DOL’s budget seeks funding for an initiative to encourage companies to fully fund their pension benefits by authorizing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. board to adjust premiums and take into account the risks that different retirement plan sponsors pose to their retirees. The DOL says that initiative is estimated to save $25 billion over the next decade.

About Tammy Binford:
Tammy Binford writes and edits news alerts and newsletter articles on labor and employment law topics for BLR web and print publications. In addition, she writes for HR Hero Line and Diversity Insight, two of the ezines and blogs found on HRHero.com.
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