Blacklist of Grievances

The DOL’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order is finally here, for better or for worse

Wednesday was a dreaded one for a lot of manufacturers. It marked the finalization of the DOL’s Executive Order No. 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, originally signed back in July 2014.

Under this “Blacklisting Rule”, federal contractors are required to report data on past labor violations, such as citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, when seeking a contract of $500,000 or more.

Predictably, the two year window has left a warpath of resistance, countered by equally contentious (if not as numbered) votes of confidence. The National Association of Manufacturers released a statement Tuesday categorizing the regulation as “akin to a bizarre ‘guilty until proven innocent’ policy that significantly burdens manufacturers“. The manufacturing forum is where peak resistance has been centralized, because many in these industries feel there is too wide of a spectrum for what is considered a violation. Protesters also feel that the DOL has too much control in this scenario, as it will now handle all subcontractor disclosures, determining whether (and how severely) labor infractions will affect subcontractor access to work on covered federal contracts. Yet another concern is the absence of state law equivalents, which the DOL indicated would be “phased in at a later time”.

Supporters opine that safety will now be more of a requirement and less of a formality. For one, public input is now enveloped in the rules. The White House fact sheet highlights the opportunity for the public to make reports to contracting agencies. According to the White House, Agency Labor Compliance Advisors “will also be available to members of the public who have information they feel that prospective contractors should have disclosed about their labor violations.”

Also, new paycheck transparency provisions have many feeling more secure in regards to fair pay. These provisions of the final rules will become effective on January 1, 2017. These same proponents would argue that the early assessment options benefit manufacturing companies, too, by giving them a chance to wipe the slate clean and know exactly where they stand. Starting September 12, 2016, the DOL will offer a “pre-assessment” process, which will allow contractors to come forward to the DOL “to discuss their history of compliance with labor laws” and secure guidance on whether “additional compliance measures are necessary.”

The final rules will take effect on a phased-in schedule starting on October 25, 2016.

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