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Employment Law Guide


Each chapter in this Guide describes the requirements of a major statute enforced by the Department of Labor. The chapters in the first five parts of the Guide are organized by type of labor standard; the remaining two parts address those laws that apply only to employers holding Federal contracts. The parts are:

  1. Wages and Hours Worked
  2. Safety and Health Standards
  3. Health Benefits, Retirement Standards, and Workers' Compensation
  4. Other Workplace Standards
  5. Work Authorization for Non-U.S. Citizens
  6. Federal Contracts:  Working Conditions
  7. Federal Contracts:  Equal Opportunity in Employment

There is also an Index that refers to selected chapters that for the most part apply only to certain industries, i.e., Agriculture, Mining and Construction.

Each chapter discusses: (1) which employers or employees are covered by the statute; (2) the statute's basic provisions and requirements; (3) employee rights; (4) recordkeeping, reporting, notice and poster requirements; (5) penalties or sanctions for non-compliance; (6) relation of the statute to state, local, and other Federal laws; and (7) how to obtain information and compliance assistance from DOL.

The chapters contain links to more detailed information, such as the texts of statutes, regulations, and interpretative bulletins, which can be found on DOL agencies' websites. To understand their full responsibilities under each statute, users should refer to these more detailed materials.

Please note that other Federal agencies besides DOL enforce laws and regulations that affect employers and workers. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( enforces many of the statutes designed to ensure nondiscrimination in employment, and the National Labor Relations Board ( administers the Taft-Hartley Act regulating employer conduct with regard to employees in a wide range of areas. Please consult these agencies for further information on their requirements.

Each chapter in the Guide also lists the telephone number of the DOL agency that administers the laws and regulations addressed in that chapter. If you have any difficulty contacting a DOL agency (for instance, due to a telephone number that has been changed), or if you need referral information on any topic within DOL's purview, call the Department's National Toll-Free Call Center at 1-866-4USADOL (1-866-487-2365). All calls are kept confidential within the bounds of DOL's compliance assistance confidentiality protocol(

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) places obligations on Federal agencies and provides rights to small businesses. The Department of Labor's Office of Small Business Programs oversees the Department's SBREFA activities( Information on SBREFA is also available from the Small Business Administration (SBA)(  Plain language guides such as this one are created to assist small businesses comply with Federal laws.[1]

Other Information for Employers and Employees

By itself or with other agencies, the Department of Labor administers several employment programs to assist both employees and employers. In particular, One-Stop Career Centers established under the Workforce Investment Act offer a variety of services for individuals seeking employment, as well as resources for employers seeking workers.

Employees who lose their jobs due to changes in business conditions may wish to file for unemployment insurance benefits, which are administered by the various states with assistance from the Department of Labor. Employees who lose their jobs due to increased imports from, or shifts in production to, foreign countries may be eligible for assistance under the Trade Adjustment Act program.

Further information about all of these programs and provisions can be found on the Employment and Training Administration's website(

[1]  Under SBREFA, the SBA has established an SBA Ombudsman and SBA Regional Fairness Boards. If you wish to comment directly to SBA on the enforcement actions of any DOL agency, call 1-888-734-3247. You also may call the Department of Labor's Office of Small Business Programs at: 1-202-693-6460 or your local DOL Regional Office.

Updated: December 2016

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