Department of Labor (DOL)

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The Department of Labor is a cabinet-level federal government body created in 1913 that fosters and promotes the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States.  It aims to “improve working conditions, advance opportunities for profitable employment, and assure work-related benefits and rights.” The U.S. Secretary of Labor heads the department administering and enforcing thousands of federal labor laws and regulations. An example of such federal laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act which mandates minimum wages, overtime pay, and maximum working hours. Another important example is the Occupational Safety and Health Act which regulates safety and health conditions of employment.

Apart from its worker protection and income support related administration and enforcement activities, the Department of Labor administers and provides grants for workforce development and training programs.  The Department of Labor also conducts research on United States’ labor market, working conditions, and pricing in the economy.

Many states have their own departments of labor.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]