OFCCP COVID-19 Response
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, OFCCP is continuing to pursue its important mission of ensuring equal employment opportunity while making adjustments to ensure all of its activities are consistent with current public health guidelines. According to OFCCP’s bulletin sent on March 20, 2020, OFCCP will continue to provide resources and assistance to workers and the contractor community through its website and Help Desk, although local offices will no longer be accepting walk-ins until further notice. OFCCP continues to be fully engaged in enforcing affirmative action and non-discrimination requirements as to the approximately 25,000 federal contractors and 120,000 federal contractor establishments (as well as subcontractors). OFCCP intends to closely look at the pandemic period in future audits to ensure that companies did not discriminate or retaliate in employment actions being taken, and that affirmative action and equal employment opportunity continued.
OFCCP will make every effort to continue assessing the effects of the health crisis on our activities and will provide updates to the federal contractor community as soon as possible.
If you need assistance with any other OFCCP matters related to the health crisis, please contact our Help Desk at 1-800-397-6251. The hearing impaired may call the text telephone (TTY) at 1-877-889-5627 or submit an inquiry online.
For additional related resources, please reference the EEOC’s Guidance on ensuring non-discrimination in relation to the pandemic, particularly in relation to HIPAA, the ADA, and Section 503
Extensions and Adjustments
OFCCP will continue its compliance reviews, focused reviews, and complaint investigations, but in lieu of physical on-sites, OFCCP will maximize use of every alternative resource available, such as WebEx, Skype, and phones to conduct interviews and complete our evaluations.
If contractors are experiencing difficulty in having their employees accessible during a review or experiencing any other challenges related to the health crisis, OFCCP will remain flexible by coordinating with them and providing reasonable extensions where needed. Contractors and complainants should reach out to their local OFCCP point of contact to check the status of open evaluations and investigations.
National Interest Exemption
To facilitate response efforts for COVID-19, OFCCP issued a National Interest Exemption memorandum to grant a limited, three-month exemption and waiver from some of the requirements of the laws administered by the agency solely in relation to contracts providing COVID-19 relief. OFCCP regulations authorize the OFCCP Director to exempt contracts from requiring the inclusion of any part of the equal opportunity clause in any specific contract when special circumstances in the national interest so require, when it is impracticable to act upon requests for exemptions individually, and where such waiver will contribute to convenience in the administration of the authorities enforced by OFCCP. As with NIE's granted under previous administrations, this exemption and waiver extends to all affirmative action obligations of supply and service and construction contracts, and other obligations under Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. OFCCP continues to fully enforce all of its requirements as to existing contractors. NIEs were granted in prior administrations.
Frequently Asked Questions
The National Interest Exemption (NIE) Memorandum issued to Federal contracting agencies on March 17, 2020, applies to new supply & service and construction contracts entered into from March 17, 2020, to June 17, 2020, specifically to provide coronavirus relief. This NIE may be extended by OFCCP should special circumstances in the national interest so require. The NIE relates only to contracts for COVID-19 relief. As a practical matter, it will generally only impact non-contractors that enter into new contracts or subcontracts with federal agencies to provide supplies, services, or construction related to COVID-19 relief.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, issued the NIE memorandum to all Federal contracting agencies notifying them of the NIE and providing language to include in new supply & service and construction contracts entered into specifically to provide coronavirus relief. If your Federal contract is exempt, it will contain the clauses in the NIE memorandum.
Federal contracting officers know the terms and conditions of the contracts they execute. Therefore, they are in the best position to determine what constitutes a supply & service or construction contract specifically to provide coronavirus relief and whether it is appropriate to include the alternate contract clauses in the NIE memorandum in the contract.
While the National Interest Exemption exempts qualifying contractors from many obligations, it does not exempt them from all obligations. Federal contractors that qualify for the March 17, 2020, National Interest Exemption must continue to abide by the nondiscrimination and non-retaliation obligations under OFCCP’s laws – that is, they must 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. Contractors also are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations, and may not retaliate against applicants or employees for engaging in protected activities. To this end, OFCCP will accept and investigate complaints of discrimination and/or retaliation, and all contractors must allow OFCCP access to its premises and records, as necessary, to investigate complaints and determine compliance with the law. If OFCCP determines that a violation occurred, OFCCP retains the right to seek remedies for such violations and may refer any such violations to the Office of the Solicitor for enforcement.
The March 17, 2020, National Interest Exemption exempts qualifying contractors from all other obligations under Executive Order 11246, Section 503, VEVRAA, and their implementing regulations, including the preparation and maintenance of affirmative action programs for supply and service contractors posting requirements, solicitation/advertisement requirements, and the mandatory job listing requirement under VEVRAA.
You are not required to file an EEO-1 form based on your federal contractor status. However, you may be required to file an EEO-1 form based on your status as a private employer. Please visit the EEOC’s website at https://eeocdata.org/ for more information on your EEO-1 filing obligations.
Yes, as long as the subcontractor is providing goods or services as part of a prime contract specifically for coronavirus relief that explicitly contains the alternate contract clauses set out in the March 17, 2020, NIE memorandum.
No, as long as the prime contract specifically for coronavirus relief explicitly contains the alternate contract clauses set out in the Coronavirus NIE memorandum, then the NIE also applies to any subcontractor providing goods or services as part of the prime contract. Prime contractors, however, may choose to also insert the alternate contract clause language into the subcontracts.
OFCCP's website contains contractor resources, frequently asked questions about new contractor obligations and information about Executive Order 11246, VEVRAA and Section 503. You may also call OFCCP’s toll-free Help Desk at 1-800-397-6251 or contact the OFCCP District Office nearest you for assistance.
OFCCP regulates federal contractor compliance with equal employment opportunity laws and does not award or manage federal government contracts. Businesses interested in getting federal contracts, including those for disaster recovery efforts, can visit the federal government's System of Award Management (SAM) website to search for contract opportunities.
In view of the special circumstances in the national interest presented by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and consistent with agency practice relating to emergency responses, OFCCP is granting a limited exemption and waiver from some of the requirements of the laws administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Prior administrations granted NIEs for Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. This NIE has a similar limited scope to those NIEs. OFCCP continues to enforce its laws and is open for business.
If a contractor needs an extension or adjustment because of the pandemic, they cannot rely on the NIE, but instead should request an extension or adjustment because of the impact of the pandemic on their operations. Contractors should request any extensions through the Compliance Officer and Regional Office handling the compliance evaluation or complaint investigation. OFCCP has instructed its field offices to work collaboratively with contractors requesting extensions due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Contractors can also contact OFCCP’s Ombuds Service for assistance by at email@example.com or 202-693-1174.
Yes, consistent with the OFCCP-EEOC MOU, OFCCP will follow the EEOCs guidance on not closing complaints (unless the investigation is complete AND the complainant has requested that the final action be issued). For reference, please see EEOC’s guidance: “Recognizing that during the pandemic there are many issues that may prevent charging parties from being able to protect and exercise their rights, beginning March 21, 2020, the EEOC temporarily suspended the issuance of charge closure documents unless a charging party requests them.”