Skip to content

Labor Department’s New Regulatory Agenda: What It Means For Businesses – Forbes

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a series of anticipated regulatory actions it said are designed to ensure the well-being of workers and employers as they concern economic relief, wages, climate change and racial equity. Also included are proposals to “withdraw the obstacles to protecting and strengthening workers’ economic security and civil rights that the prior administration put in place.”

The department said that, “Prior rule makings are also being proposed for withdrawal because of their deleterious effects on the lives of working people, including a rule on labor standards in apprenticeship.

According to the department, the regulatory protections include:

The Labor Department’s entire semi-annual agenda is available at

More Regulations

Julio Gonzalez, CEO and founder of Engineered Tax Services said today’s announcement “mean[s] more government regulations. The announcement includes rising artificial labor rates which are a complete disaster for any small business owner, especially post-pandemic when all companies are simply trying to recover and reopen. Our main priority at this time should be helping our businesses reopen and recover fully.”


He recommended that business leaders,”… work with their local chambers to lobby to stop these extremely harmful regulations. If you are not at the table, you are on the table and it starts with being active.”

Greater Oversight And Enforcement

Adam Kemper is a labor and employment attorney and a partner at Kelley Kronenberg Law. He observed that, “Secretary of Labor Walsh has made it known that worker protection is a major focus of this administration. Thus, when coupled with appropriate funding at the DOL, business leaders should be prepared for more oversight and greater enforcement from the DOL in general and after additional “worker-centered” initiatives come into effect in the coming days.

“Business owners should thus keep in touch with their employment counsel in order to stay abreast of any changes which impact their respective industries and also for purposes of complying with the then-latest applicable workplace laws and guidance. Additionally, nothing prohibits an employer from taking proactive ‘worker-centered’ measures now in areas like increasing wages, providing voluntary time off for illness or mental health days, and appropriate training in areas of safety,” he said.

How To Respond To Minimum Wage Hike

Jordan Lowry is the chief operating officer of Resumoo, a resume writing service. He said, “Responding to a minimum wage hike is precarious at best. In addition to the increase in compensation comes an increase in payroll taxes and (in some states) unemployment premiums. Not responding to it, however, could be more costly if trained employees flee to work other jobs that offer better pay, benefits, and career mobility.”

Take Stock Now

He advised that, “Business leaders should take stock now of how much they value their workers, particularly the ones making between 100%-300% of minimum wage. How important is it that these jobs stay stocked with well-trained employees? How much will it cost to continuously replace them? It may be worth the investment to begin titrating up to that $15.00/hour mark. Those still on the fence may also want to consider optics: do they want to be known as a business leader who only offers minimum wage?”

Plan Ahead

Finance expert Xavier Epps said business leaders should,”… begin to think about how a wage increase would impact their bottom line. If it will cause layoffs or cuts in other areas, then communicate that with employees in advance and be upfront. This shows that you care about your employees as individuals. It also gives employees time to plan ahead. Whether they find a new job or want to begin saving more, you want to give your employees ample time to prepare.”

The Year Ahead

Kate Bally is the director of labor and employment service Thomson Reuters Practical Law. She said, “During the next year, the Department of Labor will review existing regulations, and promulgate and publish future regulations to achieve those goals.”

Monitor Future Announcements

Given that the department, “has yet to announce even a framework for those new regulations, and because the area in which they are focused is narrow, there is little for employers to do at the moment. However, employers should monitor all future announcements of the DOL on this topic. Particularly employers with federal contracts and those whose employees are compensated through tipping should be ready to pivot in the coming year as the specifics of the regulations are announced.”