The Department of Labor (DOL), in issuing an updated regulatory agenda this past week, announced it was considering a major change in its approach to enforcement. Instead of letting businesses play what it called a "catch me if you can" game, the DOL said it will issue regulations requiring each company to develop and implement its own compliance plan.

In essence, this would require companies to find, fix and prevent workplace problems before they happen.

Another part of this strategy would call for businesses to issue documents to workers stating and justifying their job classifications–exempt, non-exempt or independent contractor–and then keep a copy of these documents on file for DOL inspectors.

We already knew through previous DOL announcements that the agency was targeting abuse of job classifications, resulting in underpayment or even non-payment to employees. This latest announcement seems to take matters a step further.

We’ll keep tracking this development, but it will probably take months for the DOL to write the necessary regulations and then hold a public commentary period on them. Still, it’s a good idea to check how your classify your employees (and interns if you have any).

A good source for understanding the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees is Personnel Concepts FLSA Overtime Rules Compliance Kit. Get yours today, for the DOL will catch you if it can.