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New Funding Gives Labor Regulators More Bite

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By Steven Tanner on January 12, 2010 10:15 AM

Get ready for more workplace oversight with respect to federal labor laws, as a half-trillion-dollar spending bill making its way through Congress will give regulatory agencies more resources to follow up on complaints and pursue cases.

It's important to remember that labor and employment laws mean very little in the absence of enforcement.

The $447 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288) determines who gets how much federal money, as discussed by the Daily Journal of commerce. The 2010 bill allocates $13.3 billion to the Dept. of Labor (including $1.6 billion for worker safety initiatives), $367 million to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and $238.4 to the National Labor Relations Board.

What does that mean for the average small business owner? Those three agencies enforce a wide variety of federal labor laws, from wage and hour disputes to discrimination to collective bargaining:

While appropriations bills rarely get the attention afforded to new workplace laws, federal labor laws only really exist when they're enforced. The DOL's plan to hire 600 new full-time enforcement and compliance employees should serve as a fair warning of increased small business regulation.

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