- Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta confirmed the U.S. Department of Labor's intent to deregulate in favor of "unleashing jobs" and to repeal rulemaking that "impinges on liberty," at the American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Law Conference Thursday.
- The independent workforce in particular served as a key example of how Acosta views the role of labor and employment law. "It may be time to update laws," he said at the Washington, D.C., event, stating that the gig economy was here to stay. And despite the department's recent return to Administrator's Interpretations, he spoke out against using that type of tool to regulate. "It's easy for the executive branch to say, 'this is what we think,' but that’s not how democracy works," he said.
- He also noted the department is looking at the tip credit rule, the overtime rule, and the fiduciary rule — all of which have been delayed or are under consideration for revision.
The most interesting aspect of his comments may be the strong position against rulemaking by executive fiat, which explains many of the department’s actions thus far. This administration has taken essentially the opposite stance of the Obama-era DOL, which some accused — particularly in the case of the overtime rule — of overstepping its bounds.
Job creation remains a focus of this DOL. Though Acosta did not mention apprenticeships at this event, DOL has publicly focused on improving access to apprenticeships throughout the country as a way to help Americans take higher-skilled jobs. In October, the White House rolled out its Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which followed a June executive order funneling money to apprenticeships and rolling back government monitoring of such programs.
Acosta's Labor Department has yet to introduce any significant new regulations or requirements for employers, which was expected. Instead, it is likely to continue rolling back previous regulations and requirements within its purview.