Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces - Public Comments - Part 4

Today we present the fourth segment in our series on examining the public comments submitted in response to the regulations implementing the President's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (EO). The idea behind the EO is that by requiring employer's workplace violations be taken into consideration when the Government awards federal contracts, it will no longer be acceptable to award contracts to companies that routinely violate workplace health and safety protections, engage in age, disability, race, and sex discrimination or withhold wages, and other labor violations.

If you're just coming in to this series, you may want to start with Parts 1, 2, and 3.
Today, we will summarize comments presented by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Leadership Conference is a coalition  of more than 200 national organizations promoting and protecting civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Conference strongly supports the proposed regulations, maintaining that implementation will improve the lives of millions of workers  - helping to ensure they have access to fair pay, benefits, and working conditions.

The Leadership Conference stated that under current regulations, contractors that violate workplace laws have little incentive to come into compliance and companies with the most egregious violations of these laws continue to receive federal contracts. It cites as support for this claim, a 2013 Senate report showing the government awarded $81 billion in federal contracts in a single year to companies with the most egregious violations of wage and workplace safety laws.

The Leadership Conference also made some recommendations to "enhance" the proposed regulations. For example, it proposes to extend the rules to all employees of a company, not just those working on Government contracts (Actually, the regulations apply to contractors, not employees. Violations affecting non-Government contract employees are to be reported as well as those affecting employees working on Government contracts.)

The Leadership Conference wants to add "physical assault" by any employee against any other employee of the company to the list of unlawful harassment. It seems to us that a lot of physical assaults occurring in the workplace are well beyond violations of labor laws. They also want to significantly narrow the definitions of willful violations, repeated violations, and pervasive violations; lowering the bar for reporting violations.

Like many other respondents, both for and against the regulations, the Leadership Conference believes that the information regarding violations be made publicly available. Publicizing violations will increase incentives for contractors to comply with labor laws.

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