Wage Violations Study Equals Increased Enforcement

A new report commissioned by the Department of Labor (DOL) shows that many workers are earning a de facto minimum wage below the legal floor, and that enforcement of wage regulations has a broad positive impact. Using U.S. Census Bureau and earnings data from New York and California, the study shows roughly 3 percent to 6 percent of all workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act experience minimum wage violations — translating to between $20 million and $29 million in lost weekly income, or 40 percent or more of their total weekly pay. The wage violations are driving 7,000 California families and 8,000 New York families below the poverty line.

“The principle at stake, which is at the core of the president’s workplace policy, is that workers should receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “To address the scale of this problem, we will redouble our enforcement efforts and partnerships to ensure workers take home the wages they have earned and deserve.”

Since 2009, the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL has recovered more than $1 billion for more than 1.2 million workers. The DOL’s division administrator, Dr. David Weil, said that the prevalence of the minimum wage violations requires strategic enforcement. “We are shifting our resources toward proactive, directed investigations,” he told those at the conference. That means focusing on industries where there is a high likelihood of wage violations, and where workers are uninformed of their rights or fearful of retaliation and don’t file complaints, he said. Strategic enforcement, he said, is meant to cause “systemic change” and improve compliance levels.

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Source: Department of Labor

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