The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division got a $5 million boost in funding above fiscal year 2021 from Congress, but that likely won't translate into the boost in resources and staffing the agency needs to fulfill its goals, attorneys and advocates say.
Passed earlier this month in the U.S. House and Senate, the omnibus bill for budget appropriations for fiscal year 2022 totals $1.5 trillion and includes $13.2 billion in discretionary funding for the DOL. The Wage and Hour Division will get a $251 million slice. ...
The $251 million in appropriations is not a lot of new money, nor is it enough to keep up with inflation, said Paul DeCamp, a former WHD administrator and member of the management-side firm Epstein Becker Green.
Fees from fraud connected to H-1B visas, which are reserved for foreign professionals in specialty occupations, are another main source of funding for the agency and in the past couple years have typically provided about another $50 million in funding.
"They were effectively flat funded from last year to this year," he said. "The big takeaway from this year's appropriations number is that we probably shouldn't expect to see major changes, at least in terms of the staffing levels and overall activity at the Wage and Hour Division." … The fluctuations in staffing levels is largely a function of which party is in power, which is true of many agencies, said DeCamp of Epstein Becker.
"I don't think that the agency is anywhere near the point of diminishing returns where putting one more investigator out there would make literally no difference," he said.
But there is dual public and private enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws that the WHD administers, DeCamp said.
"The private lawyers tend to take one set of cases and the Department of Labor tends to pursue a somewhat different set," he said. "And between the two you end up with what one hopes is a fairly robust enforcement environment."