Bill to Ensure Back Pay for Federal Contractor Employees Secures Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/01/19]—Today, legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor employees who went without pay during the recent government shutdown garnered bipartisan support thanks to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) cosponsoring a bill led by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

“I want to thank my colleague Senator Collins for supporting the effort to make sure Americans who work shoulder to shoulder with federal employees receive back pay,” said Sen. Smith. “These are people who are often invisible—working in cafeterias, cleaning offices after others go home, and keeping our buildings safe—and they deserve back pay. This bill is trying to fix that, and I’m grateful the legislation now has bipartisan support. I hope more of my Republican colleagues will follow the lead of Senator Collins so that we can come together and fix this.”

“Government shutdowns represent a failure to govern and harm not only those who need to interact with the closed agencies, but also federal workers, federal contractors, and their families,” said Senator Collins. “Last month, Congress passed and the President signed into law legislation I co-authored to guarantee that federal employees would be paid retroactively once the shutdown ended. Congress should now take the next step to ensure that federal contractors—particularly low-wage employees such as janitorial staff, food service workers, and others—are given back pay to help offset the financial injury they experienced due to furloughs and reduced hours.”

The bill—the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act—aims to help low-wage federal contractor employees—including janitorial, food, and security services workers—who were furloughed or forced to accept reduced work hours as a result of the recent government shutdown.

You can read a summary of the bill here.

Last month, Sens. Smith, Brown (D-Ohio), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Warner (D-Va.), Cardin (D-Md.), and Kaine (D-Va.) introduced the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, which is also supported by 35 other senators and over 50 House members, would:

  • Ensure federal contractors get reimbursed for providing back pay, up to 200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four.
  • Provide accountability in the equitable adjustment process by including ways for protection of taxpayer funds.

–   Contractors would submit evidence of costs for review and approval by the agency’s contracting officer.

–   Contractors are already required to keep records of employee pay practices, so this doesn’t create a new obligation for those contractors.

  • Cover employees employed under the Davis-Bacon Act (which governs federally-funded construction projects) and the Service Contract Act (which governs federal service contracts).

You can read a summary of the bill here.