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Federal Court Halts Key Provisions of DOL’s Davis-Bacon Act Amendments

July 8, 2024

On June 24, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction against key sections of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) amendments to the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) regulations that apply nationwide. This ruling temporarily halts the enforcement of specific provisions within the DOL final rule, “Updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Regulations,” which became effective on October 23, 2023.

The Court found several final rule provisions violate the DBA’s statutory language, congressional intent, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The blocked provisions include those within 29 CFR 5.2, which codify distinctions between material suppliers and contractors/subcontractors and require contractors to pay prevailing wages to delivery truck drivers for onsite work exceeding a significant minimal amount. Additionally, the provision within 29 CFR 5.5(e), which imposes DBA requirements by operation of law even if omitted from covered contracts, was also blocked.

The Court found that the DOL overstepped its authority by including an operation-of-law provision contradicting the DBA’s express statutory language. This provision would mandate that DBA labor standards and wage determinations apply even if erroneously omitted from contracts, which the Court found inconsistent with the principles of due process and basic contract law. The DBA explicitly requires federal contracts to outline minimum wages for “laborers and mechanics employed directly on the site of the work.” The Court emphasized that the DBA is not self-implementing. Thus, DOL lacks the authority to enforce this provision.

Furthermore, the Court determined that DOL improperly expanded DBA coverage to workers beyond mechanics and laborers and included work not performed directly onsite. The DBA’s language limits its application to construction, alteration, or repair, which does not encompass activities like trucking or material supply.

The Court also highlighted DOL’s failure to comply with the RFA. The DOL did not adequately assess the economic impact on small businesses, including costs associated with compliance, such as producing certified wage reports and bearing interest costs on restitution wages. This oversight led the Court to conclude that the final rule violates the RFA.

This preliminary injunction will remain active indefinitely as the litigation progresses, and the Court will later determine whether to make the injunction permanent. The developments in this case will continue to be monitored closely.

Final Regulations on Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Requirements for Clean Energy Tax Incentives Under the Inflation Reduction Act

July 1, 2024

On June 18, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations on the prevailing wage and apprenticeship (PWA) requirements for increased credits or deductions under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which pertain to clean energy incentives. The IRA offers increased credit or deduction amounts for taxpayers who meet specific PWA requirements for clean energy projects, potentially increasing the base amount by five times.

To qualify for the increased credits or deductions, taxpayers must pay laborers and mechanics at prevailing wage rates during construction, alteration, or repair of clean energy facilities, employ apprentices from registered apprenticeship programs, and adhere to specific recordkeeping and reporting standards. Taxpayers are responsible for ensuring that all contractors and subcontractors meet these requirements.

The IRS underscores the importance of compliance with PWA requirements, dedicating resources to enforce these regulations through taxpayer education and outreach supported by IRA funding. Efforts include updated publications and FAQs to help taxpayers understand PWA requirements and report suspected violations, which the IRS may use in audits. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel highlighted that these incentives benefit both workers and employers, emphasizing the IRS’s commitment to ensuring compliance with PWA requirements through enhanced taxpayer service and enforcement resources.

Significant penalties are imposed for non-compliance with PWA requirements, emphasizing the necessity of real-time adherence to these standards. To ensure compliance, taxpayers should conduct regular payroll reviews, mandate PWA adherence in contracts, post prevailing wage rates visibly, establish procedures for reporting non-compliance without retaliation, and consult the Department of Labor (DOL) for apprenticeship program assistance.

The DOL, responsible for setting prevailing wage rates, will collaborate with the IRS through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance compliance efforts, including shared training and information exchange.

More information can be found on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 page on

Chicago’s New Paid Leave and Sick Leave Ordinance

June 17, 2024

On April 30, 2024, the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) published the final rule implementing the Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. This ordinance, passed by the Chicago City Council on November 9, 2023, with amendments on December 13, 2023, is set to take effect on July 1, 2024.

The new ordinance says that employees are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave and 40 hours of paid sick leave annually, accruing at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked. Employers can define the benefit year based on an employee’s anniversary date, or synchronize it for all employees based on a calendar or fiscal year. Paid unused sick leave can be carried over into the following year, up to 80 hours, while up to 16 hours of paid leave can be carried over unless it is front-loaded.

Employees can use paid sick leave for illness, medical appointments, or caring for a family member. Employers must notify employees of their leave balances each pay period and maintain records for at least five years. Notices must be posted in workplaces, and policies must be communicated annually upon hiring.

In addition, employers can deny leave based on a pre-established policy rationale, but must do so in writing. They can also require reasonable pre-approval for leave to ensure business continuity. These measures are part of a broader effort by the City of Chicago to enhance worker protections and ensure fair labor practices. The BACP, through its Office of Labor Standards, will oversee the ordinance’s implementation.

SBA Implements Mandatory Certification for SDVOSBs, Ending Self-Certification

June 10, 2024

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued a direct final rule to eliminate self-certification for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). Effective August 5, 2024, this rule requires SDVOSBs seeking federal contracts or subcontracts that count towards agency or subcontracting goals to be certified through the SBA’s Veteran Small Business Certification (VetCert) Program.

Key points of the rule include:

  • Certification Requirement: Effective October 1, 2024, all SDVOSBs must be certified by SBA’s VetCert to be eligible for federal contracts or subcontracts.
  • Grace Period: Firms that apply for certification by December 22, 2024, can continue to self-certify until SBA decides on their application.
  • End of Self-Certification: After December 22, 2024, firms that are not certified or have not applied for certification will not be eligible to self-certify for federal contracts or subcontracts.

The SBA estimates that around 20,408 currently self-certified firms might need to apply for certification. This rule shifts the responsibility of verifying SDVOSB eligibility from contracting officers to the SBA. This rule was expedited due to statutory requirements, eliminating the need for prior public comment to implement the changes swiftly.

Minnesota’s New Legislation on Employee Classification & Prevailing Wage Requirements

June 5, 2024

The Minnesota Legislature enacted several significant labor laws targeting employee misclassification and prevailing wage requirements.

A legislative change in the new law addresses employee misclassification. Employers now face stricter penalties, up to $10,000 per violation, for wrongly classifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wages, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. This legislation (HF5247) allows all workers, not just those in construction, to sue employers for misclassification.

Minnesota is also the first state to mandate prevailing wage requirements on affordable housing projects funded by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. This ensures that developers pay wages at union rates, typically required for publicly funded construction projects. The law introduces new transparency requirements for developers, necessitating disclosing past labor violations and creating wage theft prevention plans for contractors with a history of non-compliance.

These legislative changes are expected to enhance worker protections through stricter penalties for misclassification and establishing prevailing wage requirements on affordable housing projects. Increased transparency and accountability for developers and legal recourse for workers facing misclassification strengthen worker rights.

However, these changes may increase costs for employers, particularly in the construction sector, potentially raising project expenses and slowing affordable housing development. The new laws might also face legal challenges and impose additional administrative burdens on businesses, especially smaller ones. Additionally, higher costs associated with prevailing wage requirements might reduce the number of affordable housing units built, potentially worsening the housing shortage in the state.

Navigating the New DOL Fiduciary Rule: A Roadmap for Retirement Advisors

June 4, 2024

The landscape of investment advice fiduciary status has undergone significant changes with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recent amendments to regulations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).1 These changes, finalized in April 2024, represent the latest effort to redefine who qualifies as an investment advice fiduciary and to update related prohibited transaction exemptions. 1

Brokers and financial professionals operating in this space must understand these changes and adapt their practices to remain compliant and serve the best interests of their retirement clients. Even though The Contractors Retirement Plan’s bundled offer includes the services of a 3(38) investment fiduciary, brokers need to understand the highlights of the new Rule, review their practices, and approach to determine if any of their actions would apply to the updated rule.

Significant Changes from the 2023 Proposed Rule:

  • The addition of the term “professional” clarifies that investment recommendations must be provided regularly as part of a business.
  • Removal of a test involving discretionary authority or control over certain transactions avoids potential overreach in defining fiduciary status.2
  • Clarification regarding sales conversations and investment education helps distinguish between educational information and actual investment advice.
  • The exclusion of “investment advice fiduciaries” from the definition of “retirement investors” prevents unintended consequences for certain interactions. 2

New Test for Investment Advice Fiduciary Status:

  • The previous five-part test from 1975 is replaced by a more streamlined two-part test.3
  • The focus shifts towards making recommendations of securities transactions or investment strategies to retirement investors. 3
  • The new test emphasizes the importance of making recommendations under circumstances that indicate trust and are in the retirement client’s best interest. 3

Prohibited Transaction Class Exemptions:

Amendments to prohibited transaction exemptions necessitate compliance with PTE 2020-02 to receive any benefits. 3

Expansion of exemptions broadens the scope to cover various types of investment products and services.

The introduction of streamlined requirements simplifies compliance for certain types of transactions, such as those related to discretionary investment management services.

Next Steps for Retirement Brokers:

  1. Understand the New Fiduciary Status Test:
  • Brokers need to grasp the nuances of the new two-part test to determine whether they qualify as fiduciaries.
  • They must ensure that any recommendations made to retirement clients meet the criteria laid out in the test, emphasizing trust and the client’s best interest.
  1. Review Compliance Procedures:
  • Brokers should carefully review and update their compliance procedures to align with the amended regulations.
  • This includes acknowledging fiduciary status in writing to retirement clients, disclosing services and conflicts of interest, and adhering to impartial conduct standards.
  1. Stay Informed and Monitor Developments:
  • Brokers need to stay informed about ongoing legal challenges and developments related to the new regulations.
  • It’s essential to monitor updates or revisions to guidance from regulatory authorities to ensure ongoing compliance and mitigate potential risks.

The DOL’s amendments to investment advice fiduciary regulations signify a significant shift in how fiduciary status is defined and regulated. Brokers and financial professionals must adapt to these changes by understanding the new test for fiduciary status, reviewing compliance procedures, and staying informed about ongoing developments. By doing so, they can navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and continue to serve the best interests of retirement clients.

For more information on the new Fiduciary rule and how you can prepare, review the useful articles below.


  1. “DOL Finalizes New Retirement Security Rule.” Gallagher, May 13, 2024,
  2. “Yet Another DOL Fiduciary Rule Released: Will the ‘Regular Basis’ of Prior Outcomes Follow ‘Suit’?” May 8, 2024,
  3. JD Supra. “A Matter of Trust: DOL Issues Final Investment Advice Fiduciary Rule.” JD Supra, [Publication Date],


For over 40 years, The Contractors Plan has been helping contractors submit leaner bids to win more jobs. We provide our clients with quarterly updates on issues and trends that may affect business. We monitor developments on the state level as well as the Federal. When you choose The Contractors Plan, you can rest easy knowing that we’ll keep you informed and alert you to any changes that may be on the horizon. We will continue to monitor and communicate Fiduciary Rule changes and updates.

New Federal Rule Mandates Sustainable Procurement for Contractors

May 23, 2024

The Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have issued a final rule to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to prioritize environmental and sustainability considerations. Effective May 22, 2024, this rule mandates federal agencies procure sustainable products and services to the greatest extent practicable.

Important aspects of the rule include emphasizing energy savings performance contracts, consolidating hazardous material requirements, and updating pollution prevention guidelines. Prime contractors must ensure subcontractors comply with sustainability requirements, and life-cycle costs should be considered in price assessments. Agencies are required to specify in contracts which sustainable products and services are applicable.

Additionally, the rule introduces a new omnibus contract clause requiring federal contractors to deliver specified sustainable products and services, with exceptions for contracts outside the U.S., weapons systems, and certain military equipment. It defines “sustainable products and services” in FAR 2.101, updates environmental purchasing requirements in FAR subpart 23.1, and aligns construction and architect-engineer contracts with the Council on Environmental Quality’s principles.

The rule broadly applies to commercial and small purchases, except if sustainable products are not competitively available, are too costly, or fail to meet performance standards. The goal is to leverage the federal government’s purchasing power to support American manufacturing and establish sustainable supply chains, which presents challenges and opportunities for contractors.

Challenges include potential cost increases, administrative burdens for small businesses, and possible supply chain disruptions. However, the rule also opens new business opportunities for sustainable products and services in the expanding market, with potential long-term cost savings from more energy-efficient products.

Navigating Prevailing Wage Compliance: A Prime Contractor’s Guide

May 20, 2024

In the world of federal contracting, sticking to prevailing wage laws isn’t just about following rules—it’s about doing business ethically. Understanding prime contractor liability and ensuring subcontractor compliance is key for our prevailing wage clients. Let’s break down what you need to know to protect your projects and reputation.

Prime Contractor Liability: Taking Responsibility

Under the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act, prime contractors carry a big responsibility. Department of Labor rules are crystal clear – prime contractors are held fully accountable for any underpayments by subcontractors. It’s not just about obeying the law; it’s about ensuring all workers get fair pay on federal projects.

Flow Down Contract Clauses: Setting the Groundwork for Compliance

Compliance starts with smoothly passing contract clauses from prime to subcontractors. It’s more than just paperwork—it’s a shield against potential problems. Skipping these clauses doesn’t just put subcontractors at risk; it also damages the integrity of the prime contract. By including these clauses, you strengthen your compliance and avoid accidental violations.

Department of Labor Enforcement: Keeping Watch

The Department of Labor keeps a close eye on prevailing wage laws. Recent enforcement actions are clear reminders of the cost of breaking the rules. The message is simple: being unaware isn’t an excuse, and taking action ahead of time is crucial to staying legal.

Mitigating Liability: Strategies for Success

To lower your risk, you need to be proactive. Start by speaking openly with subcontractors about prevailing wage laws, ensuring everyone’s on the same page. Thorough checks provide an extra layer of security, letting you see if subcontractors understand the rules. Consider adding strong indemnity clauses to subcontracts—a smart move to hold subcontractors responsible for any mistakes.

Risk Management: Planning for Compliance

Managing risks isn’t just about spotting problems—it’s about planning for success. Primes should carefully assess the risk of subcontractor non-compliance before starting projects. Taking the lead with measures like thorough subcontractor checks and solid contractual protections helps primes confidently navigate the tricky world of prevailing wage compliance.

Striving for Excellence

In federal contracting, compliance isn’t just a checkbox—it’s about aiming for excellence and integrity. As government contractors, your commitment to following prevailing wage laws goes beyond what’s required by law; it shows your dedication to your values. By taking on prime contractor liability, using contract clauses, and adopting proactive risk management, you pave the way for lasting success and ethical leadership in federal contracting.

The Contractors Plan understands the unique challenges that Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Act contractors face when creating and managing a bona fide employee benefits plan. We specialize in prevailing wage contractor benefits and compliance, and we’ve assembled our knowledge into a flexible, easy-to-use solution that offers great benefit options for your employees.

For over 40 years, we have designed and administered healthcare, retirement, and specialty benefits programs for government contractors.  Our products and services help employers save money, reduce their workload, and stay compliant with local and federal government mandates and regulations. If you have any questions feel free to contact us here.

March 2024 Construction Spending

May 8, 2024

The U.S. Census Bureau announced construction spending for March 2024 was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2,084 billion, almost flat compared to February. Compared to last year’s timeframe, construction spending in March was up nearly 10%. In the first quarter of this year, construction spending was up 11% to $461 billion compared to 2023.

While private construction spending in December was $1,601 billion, 0.5% below the February amount of $1,608 billion, public construction spending was $483 billion, 0.8% above February at $479 billion. A key contributor to public construction was highway construction at $149 billion, 0.9% above February.

Compared to the same period last year, public construction spending is up 18%. The leading growth contributor was highway construction, up 20 % to $149 from $124 billion in 2023.

More information may be found at:

WHD Issues Guidance Concerning AI and Automated Systems in the Workplace

May 6, 2024

The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD) just released Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2024-1, addressing the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automated systems on workplace practices governed by federal labor laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). AI technologies increasingly assist in tasks like tracking work hours and processing leave requests.

While these technologies offer efficiency, they also present compliance challenges. The FLSA mandates fair compensation for all hours worked, including those AI systems monitor. Despite AI’s involvement, employers must ensure accurate tracking of work hours and breaks and proper calculation of wages owed. The bulletin emphasizes the importance of human oversight to prevent potential violations.

Additionally, it highlights AI’s implications under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and warns against using automated systems to interfere with or retaliate against employees exercising their rights. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure adherence to labor laws, regardless of technological progress.

For more information, go to