Final regulations and guidance for contractors to protect their workers' wages, civil rights, safety, and workplace protections were passed last week - just in time for Labor Day. The final touches to the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order by the FAR Council and the U.S. Labor Department, were approved Aug. 25 - over two years after President Obama signed it on July 31, 2014.
The order is intended to stop government contractors with billion-dollar contracts who repeatedly violate the labor rights of their employees and prevent future violations. The companies will not receive future contracts with the government if the offenses continue.
Stopping Unlawful Contractors
The order changes the relationship between prime contractors and subcontractors significantly. It holds contractors to the basic protections in the workplace, and has them disclose any violations of the "14 basic workplace protections" from the previous three years when going after new government contracts of $500,000 or more.
Because the contractors are paid with taxpayer dollars, the order intends to prevent the use of that money to pay contractors who don't comply with their legal responsibilities. In turn, workers are protected from denial of overtime wages, hiring or pay discrimination, physical dangers during job duties, or the denial of other basic protections in the workplace by the contractors.
Preserving Workers' Rights
According to a statement by Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, one in five Americans works under a federal contractor. This order will, "help protect millions of workers from wage abuse, workplace discrimination, and unsafe working conditions." The statement further referred to the measure as, "a major step forward in ensuring that federal contractors provide fair and safe conditions for their employees."
The nearly 900-page order takes effect on October 25 and will be enforced in phases over the next year. Subcontractors are given one year until they are required to make disclosures directly to the Labor Department. Contractors have until April 2017 before they must disclose their three-year history for contracts over $500,000.