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The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) indicated that it has warehouse and logistics industries on its radar when it comes to compliance with laws it enforces, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The agency did not provide details of this initiative but indicated that it will take heightened action to ensure that warehouse and logistics workers’ wages and workplace rights are protected. These workers include delivery and truck drivers who are part of the global supply chain, which has seen increased demand and constraints leading to immense strain. With the continual pressure to deliver, businesses often overlook compliance with various employment laws, such as the FMLA.

Therefore, the DOL wants to make sure these laws are not overlooked.

What does an investigation involve?

According to Acting Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman, the WHD “…will use all of its tools to ensure employers comply with federal labor laws.” These tools have been known to include investigations — visits to companies to ensure they are complying with applicable laws.

Investigations can involve reviewing a company’s policies, practices, documentation, recordkeeping, and so on. Therefore, now might be a good time to review all things FMLA, including policies, practices, and recordkeeping. Training supervisors and managers can also help comply with the FMLA, as they are often a weak link in the compliance chain.

The WHD had earlier indicated it was hiring more investigators to support its enforcement efforts, which can also increase the chance of a visit. Investigator responsibilities include conducting investigations to determine if employers are affording workers their rights as the law requires. Another clue that more employers, particularly those in the warehouse and logistics industries, will be getting a visit from the WHD.

A WHD investigation generally consists of the following steps:

  • Examination of records to determine which laws or exemptions apply. The FMLA requires you to keep records of, for example, dates or hours FMLA leave is taken, copies of notices you gave to employees, and they gave to you, certifications, documents describing employee benefits or your policies and practices regarding the taking of paid and unpaid leaves, premium payments of employee benefits, and records of any dispute regarding leave designation.
  • Interviews with certain employees in private. Interviews to verify your records. Interviews are normally conducted on your premises, but current and former employees may be interviewed at their homes or by mail or telephone.
  • Meet with the employer. If violations are found, you will be told what they are and how to correct them.

Employees can also file claims with the WHD, which can trigger an investigation.

Key takeaway: Employers in warehouse and logistics industries will benefit from a review of their FMLA compliance, as they are at higher risk of being investigated for employment law compliance.