Can Contractors Get Paid if the Base Shuts Down?

September 20, 2017

by Shelley Hall

Since I just got back home after evacuating due to Hurricane Irma, I thought this would be a good topic to cover right now.  Government facilities close down for a variety of reasons including those that are weather-related and/or security-related.  Can contractors get paid for the time when they could not work due to a facility shut down?  As with most things with the government, it depends.

Let’s look at the case where the contractor is unable to perform.  You are a contractor replacing carpet in a government facility.  The facility closes down for security and/or weather-related reasons.  You do not have access to continue the work.  In this case, is the government going to ding you for not meeting the required delivery schedule?  No, because it’s an excusable delay.  If the shutdown is long enough, the government will issue a modification to the contract for a no-cost extension to allow the contractor to complete the work.

What if you a contractor that provides IT support in a government facility that is shut down?  If you are capable of providing the support remotely – say at your home office – they you would be expected to continue the work.  If you have to be inside the facility, then the same principle applies and you would not be penalized for not being unable to do the work.

But what if you want to work but can’t?  You provide administrative support in an office.  The base closes for a week because of a hurricane.  Can you still get paid for that time?  Probably not.

What if the facility is only closed for one day?  I have seen cases where the CO and COR will coordinate to allow the contractor to work an extra hour each day for 5 days to be able to still get paid for a week’s work.  In this case, the CO has to ensure that there are no violations of any union agreements or conflicts with the contract terms and conditions that would not allow this to happen.

How do you find out?  First, contact the CO.  Second, contact your regional Department of Labor advisor.  These folks can give you the “official” answer.

Bottom line is that normally if a contractor does not work, they don’t get paid.  Make sure you understand any terms and conditions included in a contract that discusses base closures.  It’s better to know up front than get surprised after the fact.

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