A separate Department of Labor was created in 1913 when the previously existing Department of Commerce and Labor was divided. This change reflected the realization that the aims of the business community and those of workers were often different and needed separate representation.
The secretary is appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate. He or she sets the Department's policies. The secretary functions as the president's main liaison with organized labor, and is a member of several presidential and Cabinet-level committees.
The undersecretary is the secretary's main aide and directs the department in the latter's absence. Other principal assistants are assistant secretaries, a commissioner, and chief law officer.