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GAO - Labor’s Efforts to Enforce Protections for Day Laborers Could Benefit from Better Data and Guidance (September 2002)

GAO - Labor’s Efforts to Enforce Protections for Day Laborers Could Benefit from Better Data and Guidance (September 2002)

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Report to the HonorableLuis V. GutierrezHouse of Representatives
United States General Accounting Office
GAO
September 2002
WORKERPROTECTIONLabor’s Efforts toEnforce Protectionsfor Day LaborersCould Benefit fromBetter Data andGuidance
GAO-02-925
 
 Why GAO Did This Study
Day laborers are individuals whogenerally work for differentemployers and get paid on a dailybasis. They may congregate onstreet corners and wait foremployers to offer them work.Little is actually known aboutthese workers or their workingconditions. Congressionalrepresentatives, researchers, andadvocacy groups have raisedconcerns that day laborers maybe used for the most hazardouswork but not paid appropriatewages or provided safe workingconditions. Due to theseconcerns, GAO was asked todetermine what is known aboutthe day laborer workforce andidentify the factors that affectLabor’s ability to enforce the protections afforded day laborersunder certain labor laws.
September 2002
WORKER PROTECTIONLabor’s Efforts to Enforce Protections forDay Laborers Could Benefit from BetterData and Guidance
This is a test for developing highlights for a GAO report.
The full report, including GAO's objectives, scope, methodology, and analysis is availableat www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-02-925.For additional information about the report, contact Robert E. Robertson (202-512-7215). To provide comments on this test highlights, contact Keith Fultz (202-512-3200) or e-mailHighlightsTest@gao.gov.Highlights of GAO-02-925,a report to the Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez, House of Representatives
 What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that Laborobtain better information aboutthe presence of day laborers or violations experienced by daylaborers. GAO also recommendsthat Labor provide guidance to itslocal offices to ensure moreconsistent enforcement of  protections for day laborers.The Department of Labor provided GAO with writtencomments on a draft of thisreport, emphasizing itscommitment to protecting allworkers, including day laborers.While Labor did not comment onall recommendations, it agreedwith those it did comment on.
United States General Accounting Office
 What GAO Found
 Although limited, existing information on the nature and size of the daylaborer workforce suggests that these workers may be prone toworkplace abuses and are probably undercounted. While individualsources may be limited in scope, taken together, they indicate that daylaborers are generally young Hispanic men with limited educational skillsand significant language barriers, with some portion beingundocumented. These characteristics make workers vulnerable to various types of workplace dangers and abuses. The only nationallyrepresentative data on the day laborer population comes from Labor’sBureau of Labor Statistics, which in 2001 identified about 260,000 daylaborers who wait on street corners for employment. However, thesedata may undercount day laborers. The methodology used to collect thisinformation may affect Labor’s ability to reach people not having fixedaddresses, a condition that may apply to day laborers. A number of factors relevant to day laborers and their work affectLabor’s ability to enforce the protections afforded them under laws thatalso cover many other workers. Labor has difficulty getting completeinformation about potential violations involving day laborers. Also,Labor’s investigative procedures are generally not designed forindividuals in nonstandard work arrangements such as day laborers.Finally, Labor officials in local offices are uncertain about the extent of coverage for some day laborers and the responsibilities of someemployers who employ day laborers.
Day laborers at an employer’s truck.
 
Source: Latin American Workers’ Project, New York.
G A O
Accountability Integrity Reliability
Highlights
 
Page iGAO-02-925 Protections for Day Laborers
Letter
1Results in Brief2Background3 Available Data Suggest that Day Laborer Population Is Vulnerableand May Be Undercounted10Labor’s Efforts to Enforce Protections for Day Laborers AreHampered by Limited Data, Traditional Procedures, andDifficulty in Determining Coverage13Conclusions24Recommendations for Executive Action25 Agency Comments and Our Evaluation26
 Appendix IIdentification and Selection of Agencies ServingDay Laborers
29Identifying Agencies Serving Day Laborers29Selecting Agencies Serving Day Laborers30
 Appendix IIServices Provided to Day Laborers by SelectedNonprofit Agencies
32Description of Nonprofit Agencies Visited32
 Appendix IIISelected Features of FLSA and Requirementsin Four States
36
 Appendix IVComments from the Employment Standards Administration
39GAO Comments42
 Appendix VComments from the Occupational Safetyand Health Administration
43GAO Comments47
 Appendix VIGAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
48GAO Contacts48Staff Acknowledgments48
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