Although President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order in July 2014, the implementation schedule is just now taking effect. In August 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) presented final rules and provided guidance in applying the new regulations. While it has been reported that the majority of federal contractors have complied with the requirements of the order, there are cases where employees have not been paid appropriate wages, have worked in a hazardous environment and have suffered from discriminatory practices.
As an employee, you deserve to know how this order extends protections. Here are important points to know about this Executive Order:
1. Employers held accountable
The Executive Order applies to federal contractors. According to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “Federal contracts should deliver value for taxpayers in a way that is consistent with our nation’s values. Contractors that illegally cut corners at the expense of their workers should not benefit from taxpayer-funded federal contracts.” In complying with the new regulations, federal contractors will be required to reveal violations of labor law. Such disclosures will then influence which contractors are offered federal contracts.
2. Protections extended
Areas that have been protected at the workplace include those dealing with wages, safety, collective bargaining rights, family leave and civil rights among others. The Executive Order also makes it mandatory that workers’ paychecks clearly show which deductions reduce funds on pay stubs, making the calculations transparent to employees. It also gives employees the right to litigate sexual assault or civil rights disputes in court, rather than relying on arbitration to resolve problems. Studies have shown that arbitration tends to provide favorable outcomes to large corporations rather than individuals.
3. The timeline for implementing the Executive Order
These deadlines have been established to given federal contractors time to comply with the new regulations. In October, federal contractors seeking bids equal or greater than $50 million need to be able to prove that they are following the regulations to be considered for contracts. In January 2017, contractors must provide pay statements to employees that document all deductions taken. By April 2017, contractors seeking bids for work at or above a half-million dollars must comply with the regulations. After October 2017, subcontractors receiving subcontracts equal or greater than a half-million dollars must prove they are in compliance.
While most federal contractors are in compliance with the law, employees often need new guidelines to protect their rights at the workplace. Those feeling that they are working in hazardous conditions, are suffering harassment at work or are being cheated out of their wages are advised to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.