The Wage and Hour Division issues guidance primarily through Opinion Letters, Ruling Letters, Administrator Interpretations, and Field Assistance Bulletins. These guidance documents are described below. Note that rulings and interpretations may be affected by changes to the applicable statute or regulations. Also, from time to time we update our interpretations in response to new information, such as court decisions, and may withdraw a ruling or interpretation in whole or in part. WHD anticipates posting additional past guidance online; guidance not appearing on the Department’s guidance portal is currently not in effect but is under review. You may contact the Wage and Hour Division with queries about any of its guidance documents.
An interpretation or ruling issued by the Administrator interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), or the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) is an official ruling or interpretation of the Wage and Hour Division for purposes of the Portal-to-Portal Act. 29 U.S.C. § 259. Such rulings provide a potential good faith reliance defense for actions that may otherwise constitute violations of the FLSA, DBA, or PCA. However, a withdrawn ruling or interpretation, or the withdrawn portion of a ruling or interpretation, may not be relied upon as an official ruling or interpretation of the Administrator or the Wage and Hour Division for any purpose, including under the Portal-to-Portal Act. To keep apprised of such developments, consult Wage and Hour’s website. To be notified each time the web page is updated with new rulings and interpretations, click here to begin the registration process for Wage and Hour’s free email service, or to edit your profile. You may unsubscribe at any time by choosing to edit, and then deleting your profile.
In the event of a vacancy in the Administrator’s position, a ruling or interpretation signed by the Acting Administrator, Deputy Administrator, or Deputy Administrator for Program Operations is also authoritative and constitutes an official ruling of the Wage and Hour Division. Rulings and interpretations signed by other Wage and Hour officials (i.e., Non-Administrator letters), denoted by an NA following the ruling or interpretation number, are official statements of WHD policy but do not constitute rulings or interpretations under the Portal-to-Portal Act. The Wage and Hour Division maintains discretion regarding the appropriate signatory for all rulings and interpretations.
Fair Labor Standards Act and Family Medical Leave Act
The requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are set by statutes and regulations. As part of the administration of the FLSA and the FMLA, interested parties may seek and officials of the Wage and Hour Division may provide official written explanations of what the FLSA or the FMLA requires in fact-specific situations. Opinion letters serve as a means by which the public can develop a clearer understanding of what FLSA and FMLA compliance entails. Opinion letters may be signed by the Wage and Hour Division Administrator or a lower level official. The Wage and Hour Division maintains discretion regarding the appropriate signatory for all opinion letters.
Opinion letters issued by the Administrator may be relied upon, pursuant to Section 10 of the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 259, as a good faith defense to wage claims arising under the FLSA. Except as noted below, the Portal-to-Portal Act does not apply to the FMLA or other statutes enforced by WHD.
Other Laws Enforced by the Wage and Hour Division
On occasion, the Wage and Hour Division may issue opinion letters addressing fact-specific questions arising under some of the other federal wage and hour laws enforced by the agency, including the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) and the wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). These opinion letters are provided to help employers, employees, and other members of the public understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Opinion Letters from the Administrator
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act
- Youth Employment
- Wage Garnishment under the Consumer Credit Protection Act
Non-Administrator Letters from the Wage and Hour Division
WHD issues agency final ruling letters under the government contracts statutes, which answer questions relating to the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) or the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), including coverage of particular projects or contracts. The process for DBA and SCA letters is governed by regulations at 29 C.F.R. parts 1, 4, and 5.
The good faith defense under the Portal-to-Portal Act applies to ruling letters signed by the Administrator applying or interpreting the DBA and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA).
Davis-Bacon and Related Acts
Under the DBRA, all questions relating to the application and interpretation of DBRA wage determinations issued pursuant to 29 C.F.R. Part 1, the rules contained in 29 C.F.R. Parts 1, 3, and 5, or the labor standards provisions of any of the statutes listed in 29 C.F.R. § 5.1 shall be referred to the Wage and Hour Administrator for appropriate ruling or interpretation. 29 C.F.R. § 5.13. The Administrator’s DBRA rulings and interpretations may be appealed to the Administrative Review Board pursuant to the provisions of 29 C.F.R. Part 7.
Service Contract Act
Under the SCA, official rulings and interpretations are to provide guidance to the agencies of the United States and the District of Columbia that may enter into and administer SCA-covered contracts, the persons desiring to enter into such contracts with these agencies, and the contractors, subcontractors, and employees who perform work under such contracts. The Administrator’s SCA rulings and interpretations may be appealed to the Administrative Review Board pursuant to the provisions of 29 C.F.R. Part 8.
Ruling Letters from the Administrator
In order to provide meaningful and comprehensive guidance and compliance assistance to the broadest number of employers and employees, the Wage and Hour Administrator will issue Administrator Interpretations when determined, in the Administrator’s discretion, that further clarity regarding the proper interpretation of a statutory or regulatory issue is appropriate. Administrator Interpretations will set forth a general interpretation of the law and regulations, applicable across-the-board to all those affected by the provision at issue. Guidance in this form will be useful in clarifying the law as it relates to an entire industry, a category of employees, or to all employees.
Administrator Interpretations Letters
Individuals with questions about the application of wage and hour laws to their particular situation may also talk to a Wage and Hour Division representative by contacting the office nearest them listed at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/contact/local-offices or by calling the Division’s toll-free help line at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone.