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November 5, 2008    DOL Home > ESA > History of ESA   

Employment Standards Administration (ESA)

Employment Standards Administration - The mission of the Employment Standards Administration is enhand the welfare and protect the rights of America's workers

History of ESA

The Employment Standards Administration (ESA) is the largest agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, with more than 4,000 employees nationwide. Its components enforce and administer laws governing legally mandated wages and working conditions, including child labor, minimum wages and overtime; equal employment opportunity in companies with Federal contracts and subcontracts; workers' compensation for certain employees injured on their jobs; and other laws and regulations governing employment standards and practices.

ESA was formed in 1971 as the Workplace Standards Administration, and renamed in 1972 as the Employment Standards Administration. The action brought together four program components and a combined management component under the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards. The three largest program components: the Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs; and, the Office of Management, Administration and Planning remain active today.

The Wage and Hour Division was established in 1938, as the Wage and Hour and Public Contracts Division. It enforced and administered only the landmark Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which included minimum wage, overtime pay and child labor provisions. In 1938, only 12 million workers were covered by the 25 cent minimum wage. Today, more than 113 million full and part-time workers are covered. In the years since 1938 the Wage and Hour Division, which was renamed in the 1970s, has become responsible for enforcing a number of other key labor laws. The major laws include: the Davis Bacon Act; the Service Contract Act; the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act (MSPA); the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act; the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); the Employee Polygraph Protection Act; parts of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and the Immigration Reform and Control Act; and regulations governing foreign professional workers in certain specialty occupations.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) was formed in 1965 as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Shortly after it became part of the Employment Standards Administration in 1971 the word "Programs" was added to the title. In 1979 all government contract compliance functions were consolidated into the Department of Labor under OFCCP.

OFCCP has the responsibility of assuring that employers doing business with the Federal Government comply with the equal employment opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action provisions of their contracts. OFCCP administers and enforces three EEO programs: Executive Order 11246; Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the affirmative action provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans's Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

OFCCP also shares enforcement authority for the regulations requiring EEO and affirmative action in apprenticeship programs; Title I of the American with Disabilities Act; the Immigration Reform and Control Act; and, the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) had its origins in an organization established in 1916 to administer claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. Benefits are available under this Act to more than three million federal employees, members of the Peace Corps and Vista volunteers.

OWCP also administers the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act of 1927. This Act covers all maritime workers injured or killed upon the navigable waters of the U.S., as well as employees working on adjoining piers, docks and terminals, plus a number of other groups. Compensation under this Act is paid by employers who are self-insured, or through insurance policies provided by private insurers to employers.

The Black Lung Benefits Reform Act of 1977 is the third major program under OWCP. It provides monthly payments and medical treatment to coal miners totally disabled from pneumoconiosis (black lung) arising from their employment in the nation's coal mines, and monthly payments to their surviving dependents.

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) was re-established in the Employment Standards Administration in 1996. OLMS has the responsibility for: administering and enforcing most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), as amended; and, administering parts of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and the Foreign Service Act of 1980 relating to standards of conduct for Federal employee organizations.

The LMRDA, which directly affects millions of people around the U.S., primarily ensures basic standards of democracy and fiscal responsibility in labor organizations representing employees in private industry. Unions representing U.S. Postal Service employees came under the LMRDA with the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. OLMS does not have jurisdiction over unions representing solely state, county or municipal employees.

OLMS also administers responsibilities of the Department of Labor under Federal transit law by ensuring that fair and equitable arrangements protecting mass transit employees are in place before the release of Federal transit grant funds.



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