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What is the United States Department of Labor Responsible for?

By John Markley
Updated May 17, 2024
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The United States Department of Labor is a department of America's federal government that regulates working conditions and other employment-related issues in the United States. Its areas of responsibility include working hours, workplace safety, employee pensions, and worker compensation. It also provides various job training programs and gathers economic statistics. Its highest official is the United States Secretary of Labor — a member of the President's Cabinet. The United States Department of Labor is divided into a number of sub-departments with different areas of responsibility.

Four important agencies in the United States department of labor were previously united under the Employment Standards Administration (ESA), but became independent when the ESA was dissolved in 2009. The Wage and Hour Division enforces federal labor laws governing the minimum wage, overtime pay, medical and family leave, child labor, and other laws concerning treatment of employees, and also enforces prevailing wage laws for government contractors. Office of Workers' Compensation Programs controls several compensation programs for workers suffering from work-related disability or illness. The Office of Labor-Management Standards is responsible for regulations concerning transparency in labor unions, such as enforcing laws requiring disclosure of the state of union assets and funds, and setting standards for union elections. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is responsible for ensuring that federal contractors comply with nondiscrimination laws.

The occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) is the section of the United States Department of Labor responsible for workplace safety. It issues and enforces regulations concerning subjects like workplace chemical exposure, labeling and handling of hazardous materials, procedures to reduce industrial accidents, emergency equipment, protective equipment and clothing for workers, sanitation, and hazards, such as asbestos and blood-borne diseases. Also, it sets regulations governing mandatory safety features for tools and machinery. In addition to OSHA, the mining industry has specialized safety regulations enforced by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Employment and Training Administration is responsible for federal job training programs, programs for dislocated workers, and federal unemployment benefits. It also gives federal grants to support state governments' employee training and unemployment insurance programs. The Veterans' Employment & Training Service provides specialized training and job placement programs for military veterans, and gives grants to government programs and private nonprofit groups that assist veterans in finding employment and adapting to civilian life.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for providing the United States Department of Labor and other federal and state agencies with labor statistics and other economic data. It collects statistics on unemployment and job turnover, the number of workers in different occupations, wages and compensation, workplace injuries and deaths, the amount of time used in different activities, labor productivity, and the labor costs of employers. Also, it is responsible for the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments
By anon117842 — On Oct 11, 2010

what does the division of labor do?

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