The Secretary of Labor's waiver authority under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a tool to promote workforce system innovation and focus on outcomes.

What Can Be Waived

The Department is supportive of waivers that are within the Secretary's waiver authority and where the state can articulate in its waiver request how the proposed waiver will improve job seeker and employer outcomes, or otherwise achieve positive outcomes. The Department will also consider any other waivers that disaster-impacted states may need.

The Department may approve waivers for a period of time shorter than the full life of the WIOA Unified or Combined State Plan, which will give the Department an opportunity to assess the State's progress in meeting specific conditions of the waiver.

The Department reviews each waiver individually. WIOA does not permit granting waivers unless requested in accordance with specific regulatory requirements. The statute requires response within 90 days of a waiver request.

States have a fair amount of flexibility under current law. Waivers were actively sought and approved under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the predecessor to WIOA. Most of these waivers are now codified in WIOA and are no longer needed.

Limitations to Waiver Authority

There are certain limitations to the WIOA waiver authority as noted below.

WIOA section 189(i)(3)(A)(i) establishes the limitations of the Secretary's general waiver authority for WIOA Title I, subtitles A, B, and E. The Secretary is statutorily prohibited from waiving any provisions related to the following:

List of items prohibited from Secretary's waiver authority

  • Wage and Labor Standards
  • Allocation of funds to local areas
  • Non-displacement protections
  • Eligibility of providers or participants
  • Worker rights
  • Establishment and functions of local areas and local WDBs
  • Participation and protection of workers and participants
  • Procedures to review and approval of State and local plans
  • Grievance procedures and judicial review
  • Funding of Infrastructure costs for One-Stop Centers
  • Nondiscrimination
  • Other requirements related to the basic purposes of WIOA Title I

Description of the WIOA Title I and Wagner-Peyser Act Waiver Requirements and Request Process

Training and Employment Guidance Letter 08-18 (December 19, 2018)

Waiver Request Tool

This tool is available to States to assist with waiver request development.

Approved Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Waivers (Last Updated: September 30, 2020)

Departmental Waiver Decisions as of September 30, 2020

Recent waiver requests submitted by the States and links to DOL's decision letter
State Decision Letter Date of Letter
Alabama (AL)
Alaska (AK)
Arizona (AZ)
Arkansas (AR)
California (CA)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
Colorado (CO)
Connecticut (CT)
Delaware (DE)
District of Columbia (DC)
Georgia (GA)
Hawaii (HI)
Idaho (ID)
Illinois (IL)
Indiana (IN)
Iowa (IA)
Kansas (KS)
Kentucky (KY)
Maine (ME)
Maryland (MD)
Massachusetts (MA)
Michigan (MI)
Minnesota (MN)
Mississippi (MS)
Missouri (MO)
Montana (MT)
Nebraska (NE)
Nevada (NV)
New Hampshire (NH)
New Jersey (NJ)
New York (NY)
North Carolina (NC)
North Dakota (ND)
Ohio (OH)
Oregon (OR)
Pennsylvania (PA)
Puerto Rico (PR)
Rhode Island (RI)
South Carolina (SC)
South Dakota (SD)
Tennessee (TN)
Texas (TX)
Utah (UT)
Virgin Islands (VI)
Virginia (VA)
Washington (WA)
West Virginia (WV)
Wisconsin (WI)
Wyoming (WY)