A bill approved on July 10, 2014 by the House of Representatives includes an amendment that would prohibit all energy and water development agencies and other related agencies from working with contractors who have committed Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations within the past 5 years. Under current law all government contractors can already be subjected to review, suspension and debarment for serious wage and hour violations, but this bill essentially provides for automatic cessation of services.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Ellison (D-MN), has already passed the House as part of other appropriations bills. There is a good chance that the House intends to include it the automatic ban for FLSA violations in more appropriations bills.

While the Senate has yet to approve these bills, and while there is some question whether it ever will be approved based on current Congressional gridlock, federal contractors should view the House’s position on the Ellison amendment as a sign that there will be greater focus on their wage and hour practices.

The FLSA can be complicated, but your lawyer can help. You may want to consider an FLSA audit of your current workforce and your hiring practices to make sure that if there is a problem you can be proactive.