Recent legislation significantly expanded many workers’ entitlement to paid sick leave and paid family leave.  These new benefits take effect on April 1st.  Our employment and benefits experts have described those requirements in a series of posts, including overviews here and here, and New York-specific considerations here.  Federal government contractors should pay particular attention to these new benefits and the way they interact with other paid sick leave requirements.
Continue Reading New Paid Sick Leave Requirements Impact Government Contractors

Alex Acosta was confirmed by the Senate to be the next Secretary of Labor.  He now takes responsibility for several high-profile issues with critical implications for government contractors.

As we have previously written, the Labor Department was an exceptionally active regulator from 2013 through the end of the Obama Administration.  Although few of us expect that pace to continue, Secretary Acosta will have to balance two competing pressures.  On one hand, the President has already signed a law repealing one of the Labor Department’s most controversial regulations (the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule) and directed agencies to review current regulations with a critical eye.  On the other hand, Acosta will be leading a department charged with enforcing the laws that protect or favor workers’ rights, which sometimes compete with the priorities of their employers. 
Continue Reading Challenges and Priorities for the New Secretary of Labor

Congress recently began the process to legislatively overturn the regulations implementing President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order.  Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can dismantle regulations that were finalized in the waning days of a presidential administration.  Our colleagues in the Public Policy & Government Affairs practice provide some details of the

Hours before the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final regulations were to take effect, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction to block most of the regulations, including the contentious disclosure provisions.  In a 32-page order, Judge Marcia Crone enjoined two key sections of the regulations: (1) the requirement that federal contractors and subcontractors monitor and disclose violations of 14 federal labor laws and certain state laws; and (2) the prohibition on mandatory arbitration of claims arising under Title VII or involving claims of sexual assault or harassment.  The court left in place the “paycheck transparency” section of the regulations, which will take effect on January 1, 2017.  Relying on recent Fifth Circuit precedent that enjoined the Administration’s immigration policy nationwide, the court stated that this injunction also applied on a nationwide basis.
Continue Reading Federal Court Enjoins Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Regulations

Just in time for Labor Day, the Labor Department and FAR Council issued a final rule and accompanying “Guidance” to implement the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.  The new regulations will take effect on October 25, 2016.  The regulations—which run to nearly 900 pages—contain a number of changes from the proposed regulations to demonstrate that the Department listened to stakeholders during the lengthy comment period.

Despite some concessions to industry comments, the final regulations still establish substantial compliance obligations.  In light of those burdens, the contracting community is well advised to invest time to understand these provisions.  In this post, we summarize key changes and examine the way ahead for contractors. 
Continue Reading “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Final Rule and Guidance Released

Some Washingtonians stroll through CityCenterDC on shopping sprees at “upscale retail stores such as Hermès, Boss, and Louis Vuitton,” or meet for lunch at “high-end restaurants such as DBGB and Centrolina.”  Covington lawyers watch these scenes from our offices in the northwest corner of CityCenterDC, where we recently analyzed the D.C. Circuit’s opinion holding that we and our luxury-minded fellow tenants work in a mixed-use development that is not subject to the Davis-Bacon Act.  The court’s opinion was a stern rebuff to the Department of Labor, which had “advanced a novel reading of the Davis-Bacon Act that would significantly enlarge the number and kinds of construction projects covered by the Act.” 
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Declines to Extend Davis-Bacon Act

Following up on President Obama’s Labor Day release of an executive order requiring government contractors to offer paid sick leave to employees, the Labor Department issued proposed implementing regulations and invited comments by April 12.  Contractors with service contracts should consider submitting comments, especially if they already offer paid sick leave and rely on that leave to meet their fringe benefit obligations under the Service Contract Act.

Under the SCA, contractors cannot take credit for offering benefits that they are legally required to provide.  By setting a minimum required level of paid sick leave, the proposed regulations convert seven days of those benefits into legal requirements, rendering them ineligible for bona fide fringe benefit status under the SCA.  Contractors would remain free to continue to account for the value of excess paid sick leave in discharging their SCA obligations, but not the base requirements.  As a result, contractors may have to recalculate their fringe benefit packages by extracting the value of current paid sick leave benefits, and then offer some other offsetting bona fide fringe benefit or an equivalent cash payment.  In sum, the paid sick leave executive order could have the effect of penalizing contractors who were already offering the very same benefit that the government now requires. 
Continue Reading Labor Department Invites Comments on Regulations Governing Paid Sick Leave

The FAR Council published a final rule to implement the President’s February 2014 Executive Order establishing a minimum wage for federal contractors.  The final rule adopts almost all of the provisions of last year’s interim rule, with a few changes that employers should note.

First, the final rule clarifies the timing of price adjustments. 

As part of a Labor Day gesture to workers’ groups, President Obama signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide their employees with the ability to earn up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each year.  The executive order—the details of which are discussed in this post— could affect some 300,000 workers

A draft executive order would require paid leave for employees of many federal contractors.  The “confidential” draft order, which was labeled “pre-decisional and deliberative,” was obtained and reported by The New York Times on August 5, 2015.
Continue Reading Administration Appears Poised to Issue Another Executive Order Affecting Contractors and Their Employees