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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letters to Enhance Military Service Members’ Ability to Succeed in Civilian Workforce

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today the issuance of two opinion letters that will assist active duty service members in their transitions to the civilian workforce.

The first letter, issued by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), addresses the applicability of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Davis Bacon Act (DBA), the Service Contract Act (SCA), and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA) to the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) SkillBridge program. SkillBridge is a DOD job-training program that permits service members of any rank to use up to their last 180 days of service to work and learn with a participating employer that best matches that applicant’s job training and work experience.

After carefully examining the relevant statutes, case law, regulations, and guidance, as well as the facts presented, the Department concludes in the letter, FLSA2019-4, that SkillBridge participants who follow its requirements and provide meaningful on-the-job training are not subject to these laws. These participants are not subject to the FLSA, DBA, or CWHSSA, and exempt from the SCA. The second letter, OFCCP2020-1, issued by the Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), addresses whether employers that participate in SkillBridge are subject to OFCCP’s jurisdiction. In opinion letter 2019-04 – the third to apply the Federal Grant and Cooperative Act – the Department concludes that employer participation in the SkillBridge program is not by itself sufficient to render an employer as a contractor subject to OFCCP’s jurisdiction.

“These laws do not cover service members participating in compliant, learning-focused training in the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program. Stretching their scope to do so would be a disservice to those who serve our country in uniform and effectively deny these service members the opportunity to receive valuable on-the-job training to prepare them for a career after they leave the military,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “This opinion letter will provide necessary clarity to businesses interested in participating in the SkillBridge program and ultimately benefit future transitioning service members and their families.”

“The opinion letter issued today by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is another step toward ensuring transparency and certainty to stakeholders and contractors about OFCCP’s jurisdiction,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Craig E. Leen. “The SkillBridge program provides necessary support and training and its indispensable role in helping service members transition to civilian life must be free of unwarranted regulatory restraints.”

A WHD opinion letter is an official, written opinion on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter. An OFCCP opinion letter delineates how agency guidelines and regulations apply in the specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter.

The Department encourages the public to submit requests for opinion letters to WHD and OFCCP to obtain an opinion or determine whether existing guidance already addresses their questions. The agencies exercise discretion in determining whether and how they will respond to each request.

This marks the 50th opinion letter issued by WHD and the 4th for OFCCP during this administration.

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