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Hirono, Smith Introduce Legislation to Ensure Federal Contract Workers Hurt by Shutdown Receive Paychecks

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and 21 of their colleagues introduced legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor employees impacted by the government shutdown.

The bill—the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act—would provide back pay up to $600 per paycheck for employees of federal contractor employees who were furloughed or had their hours reduced due to the government shutdown. The bill aims to help low-wage federal contractor employees, including janitorial, food, and security services workers.

“Federal contract workers perform important services across Hawaii and don’t deserve to suffer financially because of Donald Trump’s government shutdown,” Senator Hirono said. “While the President has signed a bill passed by Congress to repay federal workers who have been furloughed or required to work without pay during the shutdown, federal contract workers have been assured of no such protections. This bill aims to make things right with federal contract workers who often work long hours at low wages.”

“This bill is about helping a group of people who are often invisible—people who work in the cafeterias, who clean offices after everyone else goes home, security guards who keep our buildings safe overnight,” Senator Smith said. “These low- and mid-wage federal contract workers have had to go without pay for weeks now, and in past shutdowns, haven’t received back pay. That’s wrong and that’s what my bill is trying to fix.” 

The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act would:

  • Ensure federal contractors get reimbursed for providing back pay, up to 200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four.
  • Cover employees employed under the Davis-Bacon Act (which governs federally-funded construction projects) and the Service Contract Act (which governs federal service contracts).
  • Provide accountability in the equitable adjustment process by including ways to protect taxpayer funds.
    • Contractors would submit evidence of costs for review and approval by the agency’s contracting officer.
    • Contractors are already required to keep records of employee pay practices, so this doesn’t create a new obligation for those contractors.