U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Wage and Hour Opinion Letters
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced today that it has issued three new opinion letters.
“The Department of Labor has committed to protect employees, enforce the law, and ensure employers have the tools for compliance,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “American job creators and employees deserve to know how an agency will apply the law to a particular set of facts. By addressing the application of statutes and regulations in the specific circumstances presented by an employer, employee, or other entity, opinion letters provide clarity that helps increase compliance to the benefit of all.”
The opinion letters released today address compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other laws:
- What counts as work time under the FLSA when employees travel for work
- Whether 15-minute rest breaks required every hour by an employee’s serious health condition must be paid or may be uncompensated
- Whether certain lump-sum payments from employers to employees are considered “earnings” for garnishment purposes under Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act
An opinion letter is an official document authored by WHD on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the person or entity requesting the letter. Opinion letters represent official statements of agency policy.
In June 2017, Secretary Acosta announced that the Department was resuming its longstanding practice of issuing opinion letters. The Department had issued opinion letters for more than 70 years before ceasing the practice in 2010.
The public is encouraged to submit requests for opinion letters to WHD and can visit this webpage to learn how to request an opinion letter or determine whether existing agency guidance already addresses their questions. WHD will exercise discretion in determining whether and how it will respond to each request.