What’s Happening in HR – Newsletter  
 
By Michael F. Weiner, Legislative Director
07/27/21 
  
DOL Issues Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking On $15 Per Hour Federal Contractor Minimum Wage 

In April, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order raising to $15 per hour the minimum wage for certain federal contractors. On July 21, 2021, the DOL issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement that executive order. Under the proposed regulations, the minimum wage for workers performing services “on or in connection with” a federal contract will increase to $15.00 per hour effective January 22, 2022, with inflation-based adjustments in subsequent years. The regulations do not create a private right of action for employees to sue contractors for unpaid wages, but instead provide for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to investigate complaints of violations. 

The department invites comments from the public on the proposed rule at https://www.regulations.gov/document/WHD-2021-0004-0001.
The comment period closes Aug. 23, 2021. 
 
The Federal Government Is Looking Into Non-Compete Agreements 
On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. As part of that Order, President Biden stressed the need for a competitive marketplace and the adverse effects that non-compete agreements have on competition. Furthermore, “[t]o address agreements that may unduly limit workers’ ability to change jobs, the Chair of the FTC is encouraged to consider working with the rest of the Commission to exercise the FTC’s statutory rulemaking authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.” Nothing has yet come of this executive order, but those companies who employ non-compete agreements should be on the lookout for future proposed rulemaking and legislation. 
  
Federal Fifth Circuit Reaffirms That Meal Periods Do Not Have To Be Paid If Not Working, Even If Cannot Leave Premises 
In Dean v. Akal Sec., Inc., 3 F.4th 137 (5th Cir. 2021), the Federal Fifth Circuit, which is over Louisiana, was called upon to determine the novel question of whether meal breaks taken by employees while flying for work were composable under the FLSA. The FLSA provides that employees who are “relieved from duty” for meal periods of more than one-half hour do not have to be compensated for the meal period. The Court concluded that even though the employees obviously could not leave the plane during meal breaks, the employees still did not have to be compensated because they were “relieved from duty” during the meal period. The Court focused on 29 C.F.R. § 785.19(b), which provides that employees do not need to be granted permission to leave the premises for a “meal period” to occur, rather than the regulations on compensating employees during travel time, finding that the travel regulations did not prohibit the application of the meal period regulations.