Trending NewsEmployment & Labor IssuesGSA UpdatesLegislative UpdatesFederal Contracting UpdatesRegister for Webinar

 

Week 3/30

 

U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Implementation

U.S. Department of Labor

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

 

 

Managing Defense Contracts Impacts of the Novel Coronavirus

The Under Secretary of Defense

Under Secretary of Defense issued a paper for contractors covering equitable adjustments and excusable delays. Note that under the excusable delays clause you are only entitled to an extension of time.

 

 

 

DoD Announced a New Website/Portal for Contractor Resources in Response to the Coronavirus

Office of Industrial Policy, Department of Defense

In response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense is prioritizing the protection of our forces—including service members and their dependents, civilians, and contractors—maintaining mission readiness, and supporting the whole-of-government effort to fight this virus.  The Department’s latest updates on COVID-19 are available here.

The Office of Industrial Policy continues to partner with the defense industrial base to mitigate impacts from COVID-19.  This page contains resources for companies and other stakeholders as they navigate the complexities associated with the virus.

 

 

Week 3/23

 

Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Memo

The Under Secretary of Defense

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Declares Defense Contractors ‘Critical Infrastructure,’ Must Continue Work

by Aaron Mehta with Defense News

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord signed a memorandum on Friday (link) that declared much of the defense industrial base (DIB) as “critical infrastructure.”

 

 

 

Defense Contracting Management Agency (DCMA) Impact Request

DCMA has established an inbox to send emails regarding DIB companies’ operational status changes only.  This will allow DCMA to capture specific company/site operational DIB impacts that can be rolled up for reporting purposes. Reports can be submitted in the below format to: dcma.lee.hq.mbx.covid19-industry-inquiry-inbox@mail.mil 1. Company Name 2. Location (mailing address) 3. CAGE Code (if known) 4. Government Programs potentially impacted (if known) 5. Description of DIB Impact (closure/production degradation/other description of expected DIB impact) 6. POC (Name/email/contact number)

 

 

OMB Guidance

This Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance addresses a number of issues impacting government contractors.

 

 

 

 

How Coronavirus Could Impact the Defense Supply Chain

by Aaron Mehta with Defense News

DoD has also requested input from the government community. Here is the specific request: “As the impact of COVID-19 unfolds domestically and in global supply chains, the Department of Defense would like to hear from you on potential disruptions or risk to your business.  To that end, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy has established an email address for industry to submit tips and leads, included here: osd.pentagon.ousd-a-s.mbx.covid-19-industry@mail.mil

 

 

 

Week 3/16

 

Congress Weighs Cash for Americans, Lifelines for Business after Trump Signs Coronavirus Sick Leave Bill 

by Ledyard King Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes with USA TODAY 

President Donald Trump Wednesday signed a measure to ensure paid sick leave for workers and widen coronavirus testing after its passage in the Senate. The upcoming bill also is expected to help major industries besieged by a widespread shutdown of the economy, such as the airlines, and help small businesses including restaurants who are being forced to close around the country but find themselves having to provide mandated paid leave under the Families First bill. READ FULL ARTICLE

 

Contracts, The Law and Coronavirus 

by James Fontana, Esq., Dempsey Fontana, PLLC, Of Counsel to Centre Law & Consulting   

This commentary will briefly address how COVID-19 may be impacting the government business (now or later), the resulting contractual and legal issues and their potential pitfalls, and some tips to address this issue. But suffice it to say that the situation is fluid and changing daily. READ FULL ARTICLE

 

 

New White House Guidance Says Agencies Should ‘Minimize Face-to-Face Interactions’ 

by Courtney Buble with Government Executive 

Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought sent memoranda to heads of departments and agencies to supplement President Trump’s new guidelines on how to slow the spread of the outbreak. The memo calls for maximum use of telework for government employees and contractors, re-prioritization of non-mission critical services, communication with customers about potentially delayed services, and streamlining of regulations to approve critical services where appropriate.  READ FULL ARTICLE

 

 

AP Explains: What Exactly is the Defense Production Act? 

by Eric Tucker with the Associated Press 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked a Korean War-era law as part of his response to the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to boost private industry production of supplies needed for the health crisis. The act authorizes the president to require companies to accept and prioritize government contracts seen as necessary for the national defense. READ FULL ARTICLE

 

 

 

Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) limit employers’ ability to ask their employees for medical, health, or disability related information.  Under the ADA, for example,  disability-related inquiries are prohibited before a job offer has been made, and are permitted following a job offer but prior to the time the employee begins work only if they are made of all employees in the same job category.  Likewise, under the FMLA, medical inquiries can be made of existing employees only where job-related, i.e., to verify a FMLA leave request or in connection with a reasonable accommodation.    

There is an exception to the above limitations known as the “direct threat” affirmative defense (found at 29 CFR § 1630.15(b)(2)).  During the 2009 spring/summer H1N1 influenza pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated that if the Center for Disease Control (CDC ) or state or local health authorities determined that the risk of pandemic influenza was severe, it could qualify as  a “direct threat” justifying a disability or medically related inquiry.  This linked guidance from the EEOC provided the following example: 

During an influenza pandemic, an employer directs a supervisor to contact an employee who has not reported to work for five business days without explanation.  The supervisor asks this employee why he is absent and when he will return to work.  The supervisor’s inquiry is not a disability-related inquiry under the ADA.   

The EEOC recently updated its guidance on March 18, 2020 with additional examples specifically related to the COVID-19 virus.  Permitted inquiries include (i) asking employees if they have any symptoms of the virus; (ii) asking employees if they have come into contact with anyone with the virus; and (iii) taking more invasive actions such as testing the employees’ temperature.  The EEOC even went so far as to say that employers may delay or withdraw offers of employment for those with the virus or symptoms thereof.    

In sum, given that COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, we believe that employers may ask all questions of employees reasonably designed to exclude those posing a direct threat of infection to others.

For information regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and recent paid sick leave updates, see the Legislative Updates tab

 

Should you have any questions or need guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team:

David Warner
Partner  | dwarner@centrelawgroup.com  | (703) 288-2800 ext. 236

David Warner heads Centre’s litigation, audit, and investigation practices. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and counselor with more than twenty years of experience in the resolution and litigation of complex business and employment disputes before state and federal courts and agencies. His practice is particularly focused on the government contractor, nonprofit, and hospitality industries.
Tyler Freiberger
Associate Attorney  |  tfreiberger@centrelawgroup.com  |  (703) 288-2800 ext. 240

Tyler Freiberger is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting primarily focusing on employment law and litigation. He has successfully litigated employment issues before the EEOC, MSPB, local counties’ human rights commissions, and the United States District Courts for Maryland, District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia.

 

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new purchasing program with Amazon Business:

VA purchase cardholders may now purchase non-contracted items from Amazon Business. The Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to simplify the purchasing process and to take advantage of additional Amazon Business Benefits including free 2-day shipping on Prime-eligible items, automatic tax-exempt purchasing on items sold by Amazon.com LLC and participating 3rd party sellers, and quantity discounts on eligible items.

 

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs made the following changes in response to COVID-19: 

  • Increased the micro-purchase threshold to $20,000 
  • Increased the Simplified Acquisition Threshold to $750,000 and $13,000,000 for items mentioned in FAR 13.5 and FAR 18.202(d). 

 

GSA releases the following information regarding product availability on GSA Advantage due to COVID-19:  

“Due to current heightened demand for products which could be associated with COVID-19, for orders through GSA Advantage, please contact the vendor(s) prior to placing your order to confirm availability.

Due to the constantly changing levels of items in stock, GSA Advantage vendors recommend that customers contact them before placing orders to ensure availability. The vendors will attempt to field and answer any questions regarding the in-stock availability of items. In general, the more specific a request is, the more detailed the response will be. Vendor contact information including phone number and email is located on the GSA Advantage contractor information page. To access the contractor information page, navigate to the product details from the search results and click on the contractor name underneath the product image. You can access search categories that include COVID-19 related products under GSA Advantage’s “Disaster Relief and Pandemic Products” aisle.”  

COVID-19 Fraud and Price Gouging

Submitted by MAS Blogger on Thursday, March 19, 2020 – 10:16 AM

GSA has received reports of companies fraudulently claiming to be GSA vendors attempting to exploit legitimate COVID-19 concerns to mislead consumers into paying exorbitant prices for products associated with COVID-19. If a supplier claims to be a GSA vendor, please verify by checking prices and details on GSA Advantage or validate the contract number and supplier details on GSA eLibrary vendor database. Even if information seems credible, take a moment to verify.

If you have questions or suspect fraudulent activity or price gouging with companies claiming to be GSA vendors, please contact GSA’s National Customer Service Center at (800) 488-3111 or email NCSCcustomer.service@gsa.gov.

 

Should you have any questions or need guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team:

Maureen Jamieson
Executive Director of Consultingmjamieson@centrelawgroup.com | (703) 288-2800 ext. 238

Maureen Jamieson is the Executive Director of Consulting at Centre Law & Consulting, where she manages the GSA and VA Schedule contracting group. Maureen has more than twenty-five years of experience managing federal contracts. She is highly experienced in solving client pricing problems and implementing effective pricing strategies for placing products and services on GSA Schedule contracts. Her team represents clients throughout all GSA Centers and VA’s NAC, and provides assistance on new schedules, option renewals, modifications, IOA visits, price analysis, CSP review, OIG audits, TAA compliance, and establishing best practices.

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, into law. This law permits individuals affected by COVID-19 to receive paid leave, food assistance, and/or unemployment insurance. The bill would also provide tax credits to employers to offset the costs of providing emergency paid leave. Among other things, the bill includes: 

  • Establishing a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Expanding unemployment benefits and providing grants to states for processing and paying claims. 
  • Requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, 
  • Permitting the Labor Department to issue regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid sick leave requirement if it “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”   
  • Focusing the family leave program on caring for children without access to school or child care
  • Increasing the tax credits for paid sick leave and family leave to include amounts employers pay for an employee’s health care plan while they are on leave. 
Additional information regarding the bill can be found here.

Specific Items That Will Impact Employers

  • Employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or “FMLA”   
  • Ten of these twelve weeks will be paid at a rate of no less than 2/3 of the employee’s usual rate of pay (but the first two weeks may be unpaid)
  • To be eligible, employees must have been on the payroll for 30 days and may only use the emergency FMLA leave for a coronavirus-related reason as specifically set forth in the law
  • Cap of $200/day or $10,000 total
  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide full-time employees with two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for certain instances related to the coronavirus 
  • The sick leave is available for immediate use by employees, regardless of the length of employment  
  • Compensation will be at regular rate of pay (exception applies to caring for an immediate family member rather than the employee’s direct illness)  
  • Cap of $511/day for worker’s own care 
  • Employers may be entitled to certain refundable tax credits for providing paid emergency sick leave or paid FMLA 

Operational Impact on Local Courts 

The state and federal courts in DC, Maryland and Virginia have all taken steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, including significantly limiting what matters will be heard in courts for the immediate future.

Specific jurisdictions and courthouses: 

 

 

Should you have any questions or need guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team:

Heather Mims
Associate Attorney  | hmims@centrelawgroup.com  | (703) 288-2800 ext. 224

Heather Mims is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting. Her practice is primarily focused on government contracts law, employment law, and litigation. Heather has extensive experience litigating bid protests before the Government Accountability Office. She also has experience working with contractors on claims and appeals, government contract terminations, and subcontract disputes. Heather also works with government contractors to develop enforceable teaming agreements and subcontracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 April 7

GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Updates & MAS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alerts

Register Now

 

Whether you are new to the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program or already have a Schedule, join Centre’s Consulting Team for a discussion on GSA MAS updates including Coronavirus (COVID-19) MAS alerts. Topics covered include:

  • An overview of the Consolidated Multiple Award Schedule including Phase II and Phase III
  • Advantages and Challenges of a Multiple Award Schedule
  • Order-Level Materials (OLMs) and Open Market Items
  • Transition to beta.sam.gov
  • New MAS modification package with details on instructions and templates per modification type
  • Alerts and information pertinent to Multiple Award Schedules and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

 

Past Webinars

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Labor and Employment Law Issues for Government Contractors

Watch Now

 

Centre’s employment and labor experts break down the unique challenges employers face during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us to discuss expected issues with, and exceptions to, labor regulations and how to implement the recent emergency legislation.  Topics covered:

Medical inquiries during a pandemic, how to keep your employees safe while complying with disability protections; FMLA and sick leave changes; what’s new, what’s the same, and what to do with a request for leave; Layoff and reduction in force regulations; and Essential versus non-essential; what to do with conflicting guidance from state and federal instruction.

 

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Issues for Government Contractors

  • Excusable contract delays: when and how do they apply to prime and subcontracts; Equitable Adjustments: how to structure a Request for Equitable Adjustment when coronavirus increases the cost of performance; Pending proposals: how to prepare for a long procurement period; Bridge contracts and Options to Extend Services: what can the government do to keep the lights on; and Labor and employment issues: the impact of the virus on employment law.

 

 

 

Some Things to Know About Our Virtual Classes

 

Important: Technology Requirements

You must have the following:

  • Mic and speakers OR a headset.  For the best audio experience, a headset is preferable.

In addition, for the most successful experience we strongly recommend:

  • Avoid using wireless internet network connections.  Wireless connections are inherently unstable and vulnerable to many factors outside the scope of our control.
  • Close down all major applications during virtual training
  • Recommended minimum bandwidth is 3 Mpbs.
  • You may download and install the Adobe Connect Add-in from below for a better classroom experience: For Windows  users: http://www.adobe.com/go/adobeconnect_9_addin_win For Mac users: http://www.adobe.com/go/adobeconnect_9_addin_mac