$172 Million in Back Wages


The Employment Standards Administration’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) within the Department of Labor has recovered more than $171.5 million in back wages for over 246,000 employees in fiscal year 2006.

The number of workers who received back wages in the fiscal year 2006 has increased by 2.3 percent over the number in the fiscal year 2005.

In addition, the agency concluded 31,987 compliance actions and assessed nearly $7.9 million in civil money penalties.

Of the 246,00 employees who have collected back pay, more than 222,000 of these were eligible due to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Of particular note were the regulations concerning minimum wage and overtime, which when combined, tallied an astonishing total of $135,729,003.

Low Wage Industries

The WHD have remained true on their stance of pursuing low-wage industries who are notorious for non-compliance with federal and state regulations. Industries such as agriculture, restaurants, and health care are among the worst in the US for employing young and immigrant workers.

The fiscal year 2006 has seen the WHD collect nearly $50.6 million in back wages for around 86,700 workers in low-wage industries – an increase of over 10 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. Over a third of WHD enforcement resources are attributed to investigations in nine low-wage industries, which include day care, restaurants, janitorial services, and temporary help.

Child Labor

A total of 3,723 minors were found illegally employed during the fiscal year 2006. The majority of these violations occurred when workers under the age of 16 worked too many hours, too late at night, or too early in the morning.

In total, nearly $3 million was generated in child labor civil money penalties by the WHD.

Fiscal Year 2007 Initiatives

The long-term reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region will necessitate a strong and continuing WHD presence for the foreseeable future. Throughout the next several years, WHD will continue to allocate enforcement resources to the region, explore new strategies and partnerships to reach vulnerable workers, and pursue all opportunities to meet any new compliance challenges that may arise along the US Gulf Coast.

In addition to this effort, each state represented within the WHD has planned regional and local initiatives for the fiscal year 2007. These initiatives utilize the strategies of compliance assistance, partnerships and alliances, and enforcement to increase compliance with the FLSA in low-wage industries.

With compliance to state and federal legislation likely to get tougher in the future, you may wish to consider investing in a time and attendance system, which automates the process of recording and paying wages to your employees.

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