Why This Matters

When government passes ordinances, laws or incentive programs designed to protect workers and advance job quality, it must be able to enforce them. As local governments become increasingly active in improving labor standards and enacting worker protection laws, they’re also increasing the scope of local labor law enforcement agencies. According to the Economic Policy Institute, at least 20 local governments have created or are in the process of creating local labor agencies to monitor, investigate and enforce laws and requirements that protect worker rights and job quality for workers.

The Problem

Worker protections such as stable scheduling laws, living wage ordinances and job quality incentive programs are less effective when there is no clear enforcement agency that has the resources and mandate to monitor compliance, investigate worker complaints and bring enforcement actions against employers. Victims may not know where to report abuses—such as misclassification, wage theft, and other violations of federal, state, or local law—which allows abuses to persist.

The Solution

A number of local governments have established agencies specifically dedicated to enforcing workers’ rights protected by city, county or state ordinances. Protections include laws addressing local minimum and living wage ordinances, wage theft, paid sick and safe leave, fair scheduling/fair workweek requirements requiring advance notice of scheduling, fair chance hiring laws, gig worker rights and more.

Workforce and economic development agencies can inform the work of these agencies to ensure that they are aligned with their job quality strategy. In some cases these agencies can help monitor compliance with any job quality incentive programs or policies they undertake or support (e.g., living wage ordinance).

Recommended actions can help workforce and economic development agencies advance strategies to finance their job quality strategy for the long term.