“Those things are ultimately judged by those who elect us,” the Ohio Democrat said. “However, the private sector isn’t elected. They don’t have any accountability unless the government provides that accountability by establishing rules and regulations.”
The OOC also recommends stepping up record-keeping about employee accidents and illnesses. Without the records, the OOC is “hampered in its ability to ... develop information regarding the causes and prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses,” the report states.
Hoyer said Friday that he would be receptive to such a proposal.
“I don’t know why we’re not keeping records,” he said. “We certainly ought to be keeping records of safety violations and making sure we keep ourselves as safe as we want others to keep themselves.”
Workplace-rights record-keeping requirements, such as requests for accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act, should also be applied to Congress, according to the report.
Though some Congressional offices keep such records, there is no standardized protocol directing offices to keep the records in a certain manner or for a certain period of time, as there is in the private and federal sectors.
“Records may be necessary for employees to assert their rights,” the report says. “Such records may also be critical evidence for employers to demonstrate that no violations of workplace rights occurred.”
But Cole said the recommendations add unnecessary bureaucratic impediments to Congress’ work.
“It’s amazing how much of your staff’s time people think they can take for their training programs,” he said. “And I think I probably fill out enough reports now. Congress is probably the most transparent profession on the planet in terms of filling out forms.”
The compliance office also suggests a simple practice that the private and federal sectors adhere to: posting signs informing staffers about civil rights, age discrimination, disability rights, family medical leave and other workplace rights.
“The failure to require notice-posting in the Congressional workplace may explain ... [why] most Congressional employees have limited to no knowledge of their workplace rights,” the report states.
Finally, the report urges Congress to pass a law similar to one introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in the 109th, 110th and 111th Congresses, which would make whistle-blower protections available to legislative branch employees.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.