On March 17, 2019, OFCCP Director Craig Leen issued a National Interest Exemption memo granting limited exemptions and waivers from OFCCP-enforced requirements. This allows new federal contracts and subcontracts specifically providing COVID-19 relief to be exempt from some of OFCCP’s requirements. The contracts must be from March 17, 2020-June 17, 2020 to be exempt, and include both supply & service and construction contracts.
The obligations that are exempted for these specific contracts are not “all inclusive” exemptions from OFCCP regulations. Those that are granted National Interest Exemptions must still continue to abide by nondiscrimination and non-retaliation obligations. OFCCP will still accept and investigate complaints of discrimination and/or retaliation. What the waiver does provide for are exemptions from preparing and maintaining AAPs, posting requirements, advertisement requirements, and mandatory job listings requirements under VEVRAA.
As a reminder, this exemption is not for all contractors; it is specific to those new contracts providing COVID-19 relief during the specified timeframe. OFCCP is still sending audit scheduling letters to establishments/FAAPs on the scheduling list and working on open audits of contractors. This is not a ‘free pass’ out of compliance obligations (as of the date of this article) for all contractors; however, OFCCP has communicated to the National ILG its intention to provide extensions for audit submissions and follow-up requests for any contractor that may be impacted by COVID-19.
By Joanna Colosimo, Director of EEO Compliance & Principal Consultant at DCI Consulting Group