Agency Scramble

“I often hear about one government agency or another but I can’t keep it straight on who does what. Can you help?”

Your HR Survival Tip

It can be confusing but it’s also an important thing to know when you operate a business in California. While we try to provide the agency name at least once when using acronyms, not everyone does.

As you may have guessed, California has many more laws than the Federal government or its own version of laws. This means you need to be careful about the source of your information. If you hear about a legal change, you want to make sure you’ve heard California’s version of it because it’s likely to be different than the Federal version. The following may help you:

  • Labor Law — This is the branch of government dealing with all things about employees, such as labor law, safety and health, workers’ compensation, etc. The Feds call their agency the Department of Labor (DOL). California calls theirs the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Under the DIR is the Labor Commissioner’s Office that will (for free) help an employee get any wages due them.

  • Civil Rights — The Feds use the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to deal specifically with claims of discrimination and harassment. In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) focuses on discrimination in employment, housing, businesses, bias-motivated violence, and human trafficking. The DFEH is the agency that would also manage an employee’s claim about their right to a family/medical leave.

  • Wages — Did you know the Fed’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is where you can find the Federal rules about earnings, deductions, and other items involving money? In California, it’s actually the Employment Development Department (EDD) that is concerned about how, when, and what you pay employees. The EDD also manages unemployment and state supplemental pay, such as state disability and paid family leave.

  • Safety — The Federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is managed by the DOL. California’s version is the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and is managed by the DIR.

We hope this explanation makes it easier to understand which agency does what. One thing to remember is that all these agencies use the U.S. Post Office to initially communicate with you. They may continue a discussion by email or phone but that is never the way they first contact you about an issue.

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