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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Rulings and Interpretations

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. An interpretation or ruling issued by the Administrator interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) 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. A withdrawn ruling or interpretation, or the withdrawn portion of a ruling or interpretation, may not be relied upon as an official ruling or interpretation of the Administrator or the Wage and Hour Division for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 other office of the Department of Labor to whom authority was properly delegated 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 number, do not constitute rulings or interpretations under the Portal-to-Portal Act.

Administrator Interpretations

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 in 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. Of course 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 http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm 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.

Opinion Letters

As part of the administration of the FLSA, interested parties may seek and officials of the Wage and Hour Division may provide official written explanations of what the FLSA requires in fact-specific situations. Opinion letters serve as a means by which the public can develop a clearer understanding of what FLSA compliance entails. Opinion letters may be signed by the Wage and Hour Division Administrator or a lower level official, such as Deputy Administrators, Division Directors, or Branch Chiefs. 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, as a good faith defense to wage claims arising under the FLSA. The agency also issues opinion letters in response to fact-specific scenarios under other statutes administered by the Wage and Hour Division, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); although, except as noted below, the Portal-to-Portal Act does not apply to these other statutes.

In addition, WHD also issues agency final ruling letters under the government contracts statutes, which answer questions relating to DBRA or the Service Contract Act (SCA) coverage of particular projects or contracts. The good faith defense under the Portal-to-Portal Act applies to letters signed by the Administrator applying or interpreting the Walsh-Healey Act and the DBA. The process for DBA and SCA letters is governed by regulations at 29 CFR parts 1, 4, and 5.

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 http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm 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.

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. Our opinion letters explain these requirements and how they apply in the context of a specific factual situation.

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

Under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (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.

Service Contract Act

Under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), official rulings and interpretations are to provide guidance to the agencies of the United States and the District of Columbia that may enter 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.

 

Administrator Interpretations Letters

Fair Labor Standards Act

Family and Medical Leave Act

Agriculture

 

Opinion Letters from the Administrator Non-Administrator Letters from the Wage and Hour Division

Fair Labor Standards Act

Non-Administrator Letters on Fair Labor Standards Act

Family and Medical Leave Act

Non-Administrator Letters on the Family and Medical Leave Act

Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (PDF)

Non-Administrator Letters on Wage Garnishment

Youth Employment

Non-Administrator Letters on Youth Employment

Ruling Letters from the Administrator Non-Administrator signed Ruling Letters from the Wage and Hour Division

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts

McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act

McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act

Other Interpretive Guidance

Field Bulletins

Field Handbook