1. DOL Issues Interim Rule for Prevailing Wages for High-Skilled Foreign Workers
On October 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued an Interim Final Rule which will be effective immediately following the comment period. This rule increases the prevailing wages for high-skilled workers with H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 visas. These programs allow for foreign workers to enter the country with the endorsement of an employer who certifies their employment. The rule amends the calculation of wages for these workers, bringing their compensation closer to the actual wages earned by the domestic workforce. This regulation comes in conjunction with another from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who manages these visa programs which seeks to further limit the pool of foreign workers who can utilize the program.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA supports the Department of Labor’s effort to create a fair, competitive labor market when it comes to the involvement of foreign workers. We will continue to monitor the limited effects of this rule and any further regulatory proposals coming from both the DOL and DHS.
2. DOD Releases Rule to Increase Cybersecurity Protections
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) released an interim rule for its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program that requires contractors at all levels, who work with the DOD, to prove they are keeping up with key cybersecurity measures. The rule goes into effect November 30, 2020, and will establish three levels for assessing the cybersecurity of contractor businesses. The lowest level of approval (“basic”) will be required for the award of any job, while the medium and high levels will be applied under the discretion of contracting officers once the job is awarded.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA continues to monitor this issue and is working to put together broad guidance for our members so that our contractors who perform federal work can remain competitive and safe.
3. NECA Continues to Push for PPP Fixes
Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department released a simplified loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. The SBA also began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for PPP borrowers. Although this is a small step toward full PPP forgiveness, NECA is continuing to work with both Congress and the Administration on streamlined PPP loan forgiveness processes, and the tax treatment of PPP loan forgiveness.
To view background on PPP loan forgiveness and what it means, click here.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA has been working with Congress and the Administration on this issue. Congress agrees that the IRS is in direct violation of their original intent. Timing remains the issue, as the Phase IV package has failed to come together, it remains to be seen if it will get fixed within the government funding bill at end of the year or as a stand-alone. Next week, the Senate is expected to take up another COVID-19 relief bill and amendments. NECA will continue to monitor the situation as the legislation progresses.