In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
Department of Labor Discretionary Suspensions and Debarments Just Became a Whole Lot Easier and Faster – That Is Probably Not A Good Thing
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) just announced a new pilot program for discretionary suspensions and debarments, ostensibly to ensure accountability and protect the federal government from doing business with those who engage in “inappropriate or illegal conduct.” Discretionary suspensions and debarments make individuals or organizations ineligible for federal contracting and transactions with the federal government typically for up to 12 months for a suspension and up to 3 years for a debarment.
The DOL stated that the pilot program’s goal is to reduce the processing time on discretionary suspension and debarment actions from months to days through increased efficiency and sharing of information based on indictments or convictions. The pilot program involves the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) including additional information in its referrals to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) that will allow decisions to be made quickly.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, stated “launching this pilot program will help to protect resources from fraud, waste, and abuse – faster than ever before. . . Taxpayer resources will be better protected by streamlining the process and improving the use of information from indictments and convictions that result from the work of the Office of Inspector General. . . . this pilot program is a clear reminder that the Department requires those conducting business with the federal government to be responsible and act with honesty and integrity.”
The pilot program will be in effect from April 2019 to April 2020. The program is a reminder to federal contractors that compliance and thorough reviews of labor and employment practices, including hiring, discrimination, harassment and wage payment procedures is critical. Suspensions and debarments go far beyond mere money damages and could make or break a company. Let WCS help you with your company’s compliance.
The New Maryland Minimum Wage After the “Fight for Fifteen”
For many employers, the most significant development from the 2019 Maryland legislative session is the passage of House Bill 166 raising the minimum wage. The bill sets a schedule for increases to the minimum wage from $10.10 per hour to $15 per hour through incremental annual increases beginning January 1, 2020. For employers with 15 or more employees, the minimum wage schedule is below:
January 1, 2020 – $11/hour
January 1, 2021 – $11.75/hour
January 1, 2022 – $12.50/hour
January 1, 2023 – $13.25/hour
January 1, 2024 – $14/hour
January 1, 2025 – $15/hour
For small businesses, defined as businesses with 14 or fewer employees, the schedule for the minimum wage increase is slightly extended, with a modified minimum wage schedule as follows:
January 1, 2020 – $11/hour
January 1, 2021 – $11.60/hour
January 1, 2022 – $12.20/hour
January 1, 2023 – $12.80/hour
January 1, 2024 – $13.40/hour
January 1, 2025 – $14/hour
January 1, 2026 – $14.60/hour
July 1, 2026 – $15/hour
All employers must be prepared to implement these wage increases effective January 1, 2020. Experience tells us that an increase to minimum wage has other effects as well, such as requested pay increases for supervisory employees and modifications to employee benefits to offset other operating costs. If you have questions about implementing the new minimum wage for your employees or changes to other employee benefits, please contact our Employment & Labor Law practice group.
Want more? Visit the Weekly Wright Report page to browse past issues.