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New York Expands Application of Prevailing Wage Requirements

January 26, 2022


On January 1, 2022, an amendment to the State of New York prevailing wage took effect, expanding the number of construction projects subject to prevailing wage requirements. A vital component of the law is that it broadens the definition of construction projects, therefore increasing the number of projects for which the law applies. Additionally, the law imposes new compliance obligations regarding prevailing wage.

Previously, a project was regarded as a prevailing wage job only if a public entity was a party to a construction project and benefited the public. Now prevailing wages must apply to work done under a contract where the amount of all public funds, when aggregated, exceeds thirty percent of the total construction project costs and where total costs exceed $5 million.

There are also new compliance obligations such as certifying that prevailing wages are required on the project, retention of payroll records after completion of the project, and compliance with the objectives and goals of the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises program and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses program.

To ensure compliance, all construction project parties should determine if they are subject to the new prevailing wage requirements based on the parameters established by the new law.

Supreme Court Blocks Workplace Covid-19 Vaccination Mandate

January 20, 2022


The U.S. Supreme Court voted to block the Administration’s workplace mandate requiring larger businesses to ensure that workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and get tested weekly. However, the Court upheld a separate mandate requiring vaccinations for an estimated 20 million health care workers.

President Biden’s workplace mandate directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring all private businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or impose weekly testing, which would have gone into effect January 10th.

The SCOTUS decision does not affect, nor does it address, the federal contractor requirements under Executive Order 14042. However, the implementation of EO 14042 was halted by a Federal District Court in December 2021. The federal government appealed this decision, which is pending.

DOL & NLRB Enter Agreement to Strengthen Partnership

January 14, 2022


Earlier this month, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining procedures to enhance information sharing, enforcement, training, and outreach. The agreement is meant to prevent and address their joint goals of protecting workers who exercise their workplace rights and educating employers about their legal responsibilities under federal laws.

By forming this agreement, the agencies hope to improve the enforcement process of the laws they administer, ensuring the rights and protections of workers and making sure employers pay workers their rightful wages.

In the agreement, DOL and NLRB have established mechanisms to share information and create a process for referral, joint investigation, and cross-training of personnel. The goal is to improve enforcement against the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, unlawful pay practices, and retaliation against workers.

In addition to boosting enforcement, the agencies will use the collaborative agreement to increase the public’s understanding of the laws they enforce through shared compliance materials, increased community outreach, joint presentations, and training events.

WHD Issues Final Rule Implementing Minimum Wage Increase

December 22, 2021


The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published the Final Rule to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors beginning January 20, 2022. The final rule implements Executive Order (EO) 14026, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” signed by President Biden on April 27, 2021.

The EO states that federal contractors must pay a $15 minimum wage to employees working on federal contracts, promoting economy and efficiency in Federal procurement by increasing the hourly minimum wage paid by the parties that contract with the Federal Government. Currently, workers are paid a minimum wage of $10.95 per hour for performing work on covered federal contracts.

The final rule establishes standards and procedures for implementing and enforcing the minimum wage protections of the EO.  U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh noted that “implementing this Executive Order improves the economic security of these workers and their families, many of whom are women and people of color.”

The rule applies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and specified U.S. territories and requires all agencies to use the $15.00 minimum wage on new contract solicitations. Additionally, agencies must implement the new higher wage rate into existing contracts when parties exercise their extension option. After 2022, the minimum wage will also be subject to annual inflation increases set forth by the Secretary of Labor.

WHD to Host 2022 Compliance Seminars Concerning the Contractor Minimum Wage Increase

December 22, 2021


The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced that they will be hosting compliance seminars to provide information on Executive Order 14026, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors.” The seminars will include video training on the Executive Order’s requirements that participants may view at their convenience, followed by an interactive webinar with a live Q&A session offered on the alternate dates of January 26 and 27, 2022.

The compliance seminars are intended for contracting agencies, contractors, unions, workers, and other stakeholders to help increase awareness of federal prevailing wage requirements on federally funded construction or services contracts.

The Minimum Wage Executive Order applies across the U.S. and increases the hourly minimum wage for workers performing work on or in connection with covered federal contracts to $15 beginning January 30, 2022.

The seminar attendance is free; however, registration is required. Additional information, including the links to video training and virtual Q&A session dates, will be provided to registrants. Participants may register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/department-of-labor-minimum-wage-executive-order-seminar-tickets-215860654027

President Biden Reinstates Executive Order On Nondisplacement Of Qualified Workers

December 14, 2021


President Biden issued an Executive Order (Order) reinstating the Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts.

The Biden Executive Order essentially reinstates a policy that requires successor federal contractors, in certain circumstances, to offer a right of first refusal of employment to employees working under the predecessor contract.

The Executive Order directs the Department of Labor to develop regulations, and then the FAR Council to create a contract clause to apply to new solicitations. However, “agencies are strongly encouraged” to include the new contract clause in solicitations issued before the FAR clause is final.

Employees working on predecessor contracts covered by the Service Contract Act, and meeting other requirements, who would be terminated as a result of the contract’s end, should be offered by the successor “a right of first refusal of employment under this contract in positions for which those employees are qualified.”

A copy of the Executive Order can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/11/18/executive-order-on-nondisplacement-of-qualified-workers-under-service-contracts/

Infrastructure Bill Signed by President Biden

November 23, 2021


On November 5th, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending it to the President. The overall $1.2 trillion price tag includes $550 billion of new federal investments in public-works spending. The balance consists of amounts usually allocated to infrastructure projects each year.

The infrastructure package includes funding for roads, bridges, rail, mass transit, airports, waterways, and ports. The infrastructure bill includes

  • $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water
  • $65 billion to help ensure access to high-speed internet
  • $110 billion for surface transportation programs
  • $39 billion in new investment to modernize transit
  • $17 billion for port infrastructure and waterways
  • $25 billion for airports
  • $66 billion for rail funding
  • $7.5 billion for EV charging stations
  • $65 billion investment in clean energy transmission and grid
  • $21 billion for Superfund cleanup

Various sources will be used to pay for the infrastructure agreement, including unspent COVID-19 relief funds, delaying a rebate for Medicare prescription plans, unused unemployment insurance, and economic growth spurred by infrastructure spending.

It’s also important to note, according to a White House fact sheet published in August, “The overwhelming majority of the funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be subject to Davis-Bacon requirements.”

Federal Contractor COVID-19 Requirement Extended Until January 18, 2022

November 22, 2021


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its emergency temporary standard (ETS) on COVID-19 vaccination and testing. It includes an extension for federal contractors subject to Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.

OSHA’s ETS, which applies to most private employers with 100 or more employees, required workplace vaccination and testing rules to be effective on January 4, 2022. To keep dates consistent, the effective date for EO 14042, which applies to federal contractors, was also extended to January 4, 2022. A subsequent update issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force on November 10 extended the contractor deadline until January 18, 2022.

EO 14042 shall generally apply to new federal contracts or renewals or options, including those covered by the Service Contract Act or Davis-Bacon Act. EO 14042 requires employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or have a medical or religious exemption. Contractor sites not covered by EO 14042 would be subject to OSHA’s ETS. It is important to note that the OSHA rule allows for testing as an alternative to vaccination, whereas EO14042 does not.

More information regarding the application and timing of the federal contractor COVID-19 requirement can be found here, https://link.zixcentral.com/u/8a804b82/KH7euapL7BGkQDDUhnsoMg?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.saferfederalworkforce.gov%2Fcontractors%2F

 

Welcome To The First Edition Of The Contractors Plan Retirement Newsletter!

November 10, 2021


The purpose of this quarterly newsletter is to provide a deep dive into retirement topics to help you better prepare for upcoming and important events. We will also cover happenings in the retirement industry that may potentially impact your plan.

Click here to read The Contractors Plan Retirement Newsletter

Michigan Reinstates Prevailing Wage For State Construction Projects

October 18, 2021


Earlier this month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced that the State would once again require state contractors and subcontractors to pay prevailing wage on state-funded projects. The intent of reinstating the prevailing wage is to help ensure that construction workers can earn a fair wage while saving taxpayers time and money on essential state infrastructure projects.

The Michigan legislature repealed Michigan’s prevailing wage in June 2018, which eliminated the State’s prevailing wage requirement. However, the 2018 law included a clause allowing the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to put it back in state contracts, which Governor Whitman is now implementing.

Governor Whitmer hopes that reinstating the prevailing wage will rebuild confidence among Michigan workers and employers by providing a fair and equal bidding process for highly trained workers to earn a decent wage. Nonetheless, opponents have vowed to fight the new policy in court, arguing that the prevailing wage will raise costs and reduce the amount of building that could be achieved for taxpayers.