Labor Department

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The Department of Labor (DOL) administers federal LABOR LAWS for the EXECUTIVE BRANCH of the federal government. Its mission is "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment" (29 U.S.C.A. § 551 [1985]). The DOL was created in 1913 out of four bureaus from the Department of Commerce and Labor: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Naturalization, and Children's Bureau.

The DOL is headed by the secretary of labor, who serves in the president's cabinet. The department's numerous responsibilities include administering and enforcing federal labor laws guaranteeing workers' rights to safe and healthful working conditions, a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay, freedom from employment discrimination, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. The department protects workers' PENSION rights, provides for job training programs, helps workers find jobs, and works to strengthen the COLLECTIVE BARGAINING process. It keeps track of changes in employment, prices, and other economic measurements. The DOL also makes special efforts to address the unique job market problems of minorities, women, children, the elderly, DISABLED PERSONS, among other classes of workers.

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The major bureaus and agencies within the DOL are the Employment and Training Administration, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Employment Standards Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Veterans' Employment and Training Service. Other organizations, including the Women's Bureau, Office of the American Workplace, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, and the Office of Disability Employment Policy, also function within the department.

Employment and Training Administration

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) administers major programs relating to employment services, job training, and unemployment insurance. The ETA also administers a federal-state employment security system, funds and oversees programs to provide work experience and training for groups having difficulty entering or returning to the workforce, and formulates and promotes apprenticeship standards and programs.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) helps protect the economic future and retirement security of workers, as required under the EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT of 1974 (ERISA) (29 U.S.C.A. § 1001). EBSA assists over 200 million participants and beneficiaries in pension, health, and other employee benefit plans. It also assists more than three million plan sponsors and members of the employee benefit community. EBSA promotes voluntary...

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