Department of Labor Issuing Proposed Guidance In Applying the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

Monday, June 1, 2015

Every year tens of thousands of American workers are denied overtime wages, are unlawfully discriminated against in hiring or pay, have their health and safety put at risk by those contractors that cut corners or are otherwise unlawfully denied basic workplace protections. 

To improve contractor compliance with basic workplace protections, on July 31, 2014, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which will require prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and will give agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts. 

The Department of Labor is issuing proposed guidance to assist contracting agencies and the contracting community in applying the order's requirements, including evaluating the severity of labor violations. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) is also issuing proposed regulations integrating the order's requirements, and the provisions of the Labor Department's guidance into the existing procurement rules. Both the FAR Council's proposed regulations and the Labor Department's proposed guidance will be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 60-day public comment period.

The proposed guidance and regulations build on the existing procurement system, and most federal contractors will only have to attest that they comply with laws providing basic workplace protections; for those contractors that report violations, designated Labor Compliance Advisors will coordinate with the relevant enforcement agency experts to help them come into compliance.

In addition to setting up a process to effectively consider labor law violations, the Executive Order ensures that contractors' employees are given the necessary information each pay period to verify the accuracy of their paycheck. It also ensures that workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated can take their case to court, putting an end to mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering these claims at large federal contractors. 

In addition to building on the existing federal acquisition system with which contractors are already familiar, parts of the regulations and guidance will be phased in so that contractors have additional time to better understand the requirements.

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