HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Department of Labor
The Department of Labor operates many programs to help the workforce, and HR needs to keep up with changes and regulations. This article dives into what the Department of Labor does and the impact it has on employees, employers, and the economy.

What Is the Department of Labor?

The Department of Labor is a department of the US federal government. It helps administer the federal laws of occupational safety and health, wage and hour standards, unemployment, benefits, reemployment services, and economic statistics. In addition to the federal Department of Labor, each state has its own Department of Labor.

DOL History

The Department of Labor was established on March 4th, 1913, by US president William Howard Taft. The purpose of the creation of the department was “to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Initially, the department was made up of five different bureaus. Those five were the U.S. Conciliation Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Naturalization and the Children’s Bureau. Many changes have occurred over the years. Some notable changes occurred during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal social programs implemented by Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of the big changes was the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, which revitalized the existing U.S. Employment Services and created a nation-wide system of employment offices. This was the start of each state having its own department of labor.

What Does the Department of Labor Do?

The Department of Labor plays many roles for the betterment of employees, including improving working conditions, advancing opportunities for profitable employment, and assuring work-related benefits and rights.

Improve Working Conditions

The Department strives to improve working conditions for employees in a variety of ways, including improved wages, safety conditions, and ensuring fair treatment.

Advance Opportunities for Profitable Employment

The DOL seeks to advance opportunities for employees. This is done through programs such as the Women’s Bureau, which protects the interests of all working women and ensures equal opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also helps with this by collecting employment data and analyzing it to provide accurate information for public and private decision-making of employees and employers.
Many DOL programs are meant to provide rights and benefits for employees and employers. Some of these include the Official Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). They ensure that employees who are hurt while on the job are given proper benefits and rights and that working conditions are safe. They also work so that employees are paid fairly for the time they work and outline the benefits and rights of employers that employees must follow.

How Does the Department of Labor Affect Workers?

The Department of Labor’s programs affect everyone in the workforce. Some of them are geared towards employees, while others are more geared towards employers. Here are some of the effects that they have on workers.


Programs such as OSHA are in place so that employees are safe while in the workplace. Guidelines are set so employees know what rules they must follow to be safe, as well as what working conditions are legal for employers to ask of their employees. In addition to OSHA, there is the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which promotes the safety and working conditions of mining workers.


The DOL protects equality for all employees so that they are paid fairly and given equal opportunity regardless of disability or gender. Some of their programs, such as the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Women’s Bureau (WB), are geared towards equal rights. These programs have a direct impact on how disabled or women employees are treated in the workplace. These are just two classes, but the DOL strives to protect employees from all other areas of employment discrimination, including race, gender, color, religion, national orgin, age, or veteran status.


The DOL plays a key role in deciding minimum wage on a national and state level. They also make decisions on overtime rates, exempt and non-exempt classifications, and whether employees are being paid correctly for their time. All wage disputes fall under the DOL umbrella.

How Does the Department of Labor Affect the Economy?

Every decision the DOL makes has some kind of impact on the workforce. When the workforce is impacted, it directly impacts the economy.

Data Insights

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows trends in the workforce that show what direction the economy is heading. The data collected provides insights on what needs to be corrected in order to improve the economy.

Job Opportunities

The DOL is focused on the betterment of the workforce. It is aware of trends and reasons some industries might be struggling, and highlights where there is opportunity or what is important to employees. All decisions made by the DOL impact what job opportunities there might be as more time and money is spent on programs that work more closely with certain industries, such as OSHA or MSHA.

Provides Workers' Rights

Programs that the DOL has in place to provide rights to employees include the Office of Labor-Management and Standards (OLMS) and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Agencies and Programs Under the Department of Labor

There are quite a few different agencies and programs under the Department of Labor. You can refer to the Department of Labor website for more information on each. A few of the most common are described below.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB)

ILAB promotes a fair global playing field for workers in the US and around the world. They enforce trade commitments and other international affairs.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The main mission of BLS is to collect, analyze, and disseminate economic information to support public and private decision-making.

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

EBSA assures the security of retirement, health, and other workplace-related benefits.

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)

The ETA's mission is to contribute to the more efficient functioning of the US labor market through high-quality job training, employment and other services.

Mine Safety and Health Administration(MSHA)

MSHA works to prevent death, illness, and injury from mining and promote a safe environment.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA's job is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by enforcing and setting safe working conditions.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM)

OASAM provides infrastructure and support for the Department of Labor.

Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (OCIA)

OCIA works to develop effective programs and strategies to achieve the Department’s legislative goals and objectives.

Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)

Providing strong financial management and accountability for DOL is OCFO's responsibility.

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

ODEP develops and influences policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

OFCCP protects workers, promotes diversity and enforces the law.

Office of Inspector General (OIG)

The OIG provides independent and objective oversight of Departmental programs through audits and investigations.

Office of Labor-Management and Standards (OLMS)

OLMS administers and enforces the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.

Office of the Solicitor (SOL)

The SOL meets the legal demands of the entire Department of Labor.

Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

Their purpose is to protect the interest of workers who are injured or become ill on the job. They oversee the worker’s comp program.

Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS)

VETS provides veterans and their families employment resources and expertise as well as protecting their employment rights.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

WHD's role is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce.

Women’s Bureau (WB)

They develop policies and standards as well as conduct inquiries to project the interests of working women.
Tanner Pierce, PHR

Tanner Pierce, PHR

Tanner has over 4 years of HR professional experience in various fields of HR. He has experience in hiring, recruiting, employment law, unemployment, onboarding, outboarding, and training to name a few. Most of his experience comes from working in the Professional Employer and Staffing Industries. He has a passion for putting people in the best position to succeed and really tries to understand the different backgrounds people come from.
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Adverse Impact
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Age Discrimination
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Ban the Box
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Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)
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