Federal, state and local areas have all mobilized to respond to both the COVID-19 virus and its impact on people, the economy and other essential functions.
Along with most other agencies, the Office of Federal Contract Compliant Programs (OFCCP) has released a set of Frequently Asked Questions to address the impact and ramifications of the National Interest Exemption.
We have provided a brief guide to the new temporary rules put in place by the National Interest Exemption memorandum.
At InterConnect Human Resources Services, we strive to provide the most accurate and updated information to our clients and others. Since information changes almost daily, we urge you to check regularly for important updates.
What is the National Interest Exemption?
The National Interest Exemption (NIE) covers certain supply, service and construction contracts established between March 17 and June 17, 2020. Each of these contracts must also be applicable to COVID-19-related work.
Contractors affected by the NIE are exempt from certain requirements under Executive Order 11246 (Equal Employment Opportunity), Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
This does not relieve the contractor from obligations to not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. They must also obey nondiscrimination and nonretaliation obligations under OFCCP’s laws.
The exemption’s purpose lies in temporarily lifting affirmative action requirements in hiring so that federal contractors can gear up and work as quickly as possible. Emergency conditions require agile and rapid responses so many contractors will have to hire fast and get to work quickly.
Who is Affected by the Exemption?
Most federal contractors will not be affected by this exemption. It only applies to noncontractors entering into new federal contracts or subcontracts to federal agencies to provide supplies, construction or other services related to COVID-19 relief efforts.
Contractors affected by the exemption should receive notice from the federal government containing notice and important instructions. Also, the OFCCP will continue to accept and investigate accusations and claims of violations of nondiscrimination laws.
How Long Will the National Interest Exemption Last?
The National Interest Exemptions will remain in place from March 17, 2020 until June 17, 2020. However, with the situation still fluid, these parameters may change.
When the national emergency passes, we expect that the exemption will be lifted.
Those contractors requiring additional exemption time beyond the parameters of the NIE will have to contact their Regional Office and Compliance Officer. These resources can help to determine if your contracting business needs the extra time.
Reach Out for More Vital Information
Learn more today about how InterConnect Human Resources Services can assist your efforts to remain compliant with federal, state and local employment regulations. We focus on affirmative action, diversity and federal contracting issues for our clients.
Contact us with any questions that you may have about our wide array of services. Our friendly and professional staff can provide answers or set you up with a consultation.
Let us work together to ensure that your organization focuses its efforts on productivity and success, and not just compliance.