CLAUSE H.21 – EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION: PAY AND BENEFITS
(a) Contractor Employee Compensation System
The Contractor shall develop, implement and maintain formal policies, practices and procedures to be used in the administration of its compensation system consistent with FAR 31.205-6 and DEAR 970.3102-05-6; “Compensation for Personal Services”. DOE-approved standards, if any, shall be applied to the Total Compensation System. The Contractor’s Total Compensation System shall be fully documented, consistently applied, and acceptable to the Contracting Officer. Periodic appraisals of contractor performance with respect to the Contractors’ Total Compensation System will be conducted. Costs incurred in implementing the Total Compensation System shall be consistent with the Contractor’s documented Contractor Employee Compensation Plan as approved by the Contracting Officer.
(1) The description of the Contractor Employee Compensation Program should include the following components;
a. Philosophy and strategy for all pay delivery programs.
b. System for establishing a job worth hierarchy.
c. Method for relating internal job worth hierarchy to external market.
d. System that links individual and/or group performance to compensation decisions.
e. Method for planning and monitoring the expenditure of funds.
f. Method for ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
g. System for communicating the programs to employees.
h. System for internal controls and self-assessment.
i. System to ensure that reimbursement of compensation, including stipends, for employees who are on joint appointments with a parent or other organization shall be on a pro-rated basis.
(b) Reports and Information
The Contractor shall provide the Contracting Officer with the following reports and information with respect to pay and benefits provided under this Contract:
(1) An Annual Contractor Salary-Wage Increase Expenditure Report to include, at a minimum, breakouts for merit, promotion, variable pay, special adjustments, and structure movements for each pay structure showing actual against approved amounts and planned distribution of funds for the following year.
(2) A list of the top five most highly compensated contractor employees and their total cash compensation as defined in FAR 31.205-6(p)(1)(i) at the time of Contract award, and at the time of any subsequent change to their total cash compensation no later than March 1st of each year.
Section 702 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA; Pub. L. 113-67, December 26, 2013) establishes a cap on the reimbursement of compensation costs for contractor employees, adjusted annually to reflect the change in the Employment Cost Index for all workers as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
(3) An Annual Compensation and Benefits Report no later than March 15th of each year.
(c) Pay and Benefit Programs
The Contractor shall maintain pay and benefit programs for its employees; provided, however, that employees scheduled to work fewer than 20 hours per week receive only those benefits required by law. Employees are eligible for benefits, subject to the terms, conditions, and limitations of each benefit program.
(1) Cash Compensation
(A) The Contractor shall submit the following, as applicable, to the Contracting Officer for a determination of cost allowability for reimbursement under the Contract:
(i) Any proposed major compensation program design changes prior to implementation.
(ii) Variable pay programs/incentives. If not already authorized under Appendix A of the contract, a justification shall be provided with proposed costs and impacts to budget, if any.
(iii) A Compensation Increase Plan (CIP). A Contractor that meets the criteria, as set forth below, is not required to submit a CIP request to the Contracting Officer for an advance determination of cost allowability for a Merit Increase fund or Promotion/Adjustment fund unless Departmental policy exists to the contrary (.e.g. Secretarial Pay freeze):
- The Merit Increase fund does not exceed the mean percent increase included in the annual Departmental guidance providing the WorldatWork Salary Budget Survey’s salary increase projected for the CIP year. The Promotion/Adjustment fund does not exceed the mean WorldatWork promotional increases projected for the CIP year and communicated through the annual Department CIP guidance
- The budget used for both Merit Increase funds and Promotion/Adjustment funds shall be based on the payroll for the end of the previous CIP year.
- Salary structure adjustments do not exceed the mean WorldatWork structure adjustments projected for the CIP year and communicated through the annual Department CIP guidance.
Please note: No later than the first day of the CIP cycle, Contractors must provide notification to the Contracting Officer of planned increases and position to market data by mutually agreed-upon employment categories.
(iv) If a Contractor does not meet the criteria included in (iii) above, a CIP must be submitted to the Contracting Officer for an advance determination of cost allowability, unless the Contracting Officer, in accordance with subparagraph (m) obtains an audit of the Contractor’s compensation and benefits system and of its incurred costs from either DCAA, or an independent public accounting firm under the DOE contract for such services.
Otherwise, the CIP should include the following components and data:
(1) Market analysis summary, including a comparison of average pay to market average pay.
(2) Information regarding surveys used for comparison.
(3) Aging factors used for escalating survey data and supporting information.
(4) Projection of escalation in the market and supporting information.
(5) Information to support proposed structure adjustments, if any.
(6) Analysis to support special adjustments or promotions that exceed the 1% Promotion/Adjustment fund authorized under Section 3, titled Compensation of Appendix A.
(7) Funding requests for each pay structure to include breakouts of merit, promotions, variable pay, special adjustments, and structure movement for each Employee Group (i.e., S&E, Administrative, Technical, Exempt/Non-Exempt). (a) The proposed plan totals shall be expressed as a percentage of the payroll for the end of the previous CIP year. (b) All pay actions granted under the compensation increase plan are fully charged when they occur regardless of time of year in which the action transpires and whether the employee terminates before year end. (c) Specific payroll groups (e.g., exempt, nonexempt) for which CIP amounts are intended shall be defined by mutual agreement between the Contractor and the Contracting Officer. (d) The Contracting Officer may adjust the CIP amount after approval based on major changes in factors that significantly affect the plan amount (for example, in the event of a major reduction in force or significant ramp-up).
(8) A discussion of the impact of budget and business constraints on the CIP amount.
(9) Comparison of pay to relevant factors other than market average pay.
(10) Discussion of recruitment/retention issues (e.g., turnover and hiring) relevant to the proposed increase amounts.
(v) The Contractor may make, without CO Approval, minor shifts of merit funds between Merit and Promotion/Adjustment funds after approval of the CIP or if criteria under (c)(1)(A)(iii) was met, in order to meet the compensation requirements of its organization, subject to the following guidelines:
- Minor shift is defined as up to 25% of the specific fund from which funds are being transferred, the contractor may, with CO approval, shift additional funds in justified instances.
- Contractors will notify the Contracting Officer that funds have been shifted.
(vi) Individual compensation actions for the top contractor official (e.g., laboratory director/plant manager or equivalent) and Key Personnel not included in the CIP. For those Key Personnel included in the CIP, DOE will approve salaries upon the initial contract award and when Key Personnel are replaced during the life of the contract. DOE will have access to all individual salary reimbursements. This access is provided for transparency; DOE will not approve individual salary actions (except as previously stated).
(B) The Contracting Officer’s approval of individual compensation actions will be required only for the top contractor official (e.g., laboratory director/plant manager or equivalent) and Key Personnel as stated in (c)(1)(A)(vi) above. The base salary reimbursement level for the top contractor official establishes the maximum allowable salary reimbursement under the contract. The contractor shall not be reimbursed for the top contractor official’s incentive compensation. The base salary reimbursement level for the top contractor official establishes the maximum allowable salary reimbursement under the contract when compared to subordinate compensation, which would include base salary and any potential incentive compensation under an incentive compensation agreement. Unusual circumstances may require a deviation for an individual on a case-by-case basis. Any such deviations must be approved by the Contracting Officer.
(C) Severance Pay is not payable to an employee under this Contract if the employee:
(i) Voluntarily separates, resigns or retires from employment, (unless associated with a workforce restructuring action in accordance with Appendix A, Section entitled Reductions in Contractor Employment)
(ii) Is offered employment with a successor/replacement Contractor,
(iii) Is offered employment with a parent or affiliated company, or
(iv) Is discharged for cause.
(D) Service Credit for purposes of determining severance pay does not include any period of prior service for which severance pay has been previously paid through a DOE cost-reimbursement contract.
(d) Pension and Other Benefit Programs
(1) No presumption of allowability will exist when the Contractor implements a new benefit plan, or makes changes to existing benefit plans, and the Contractor has not provided the Contracting Officer the opportunity to review the allowability of the changes prior to implementation. The Contractor shall submit for prior approval any benefit plan changes not associated with pensions that result in increases in costs if the value of the change is $250,000 or greater. Notification is only necessary for those benefit plan changes (excluding pension and postretirement benefit changes) valued at $250,000 or less. The Contractor shall submit for prior approval benefit changes that result in increases to the Department’s long-term pension and other actuarial liabilities that are reported in the Department’s financial statement and increases in other benefits such as paid time off, insurance and employer contributions for defined contribution pension plans regardless of dollar value. Examples of benefits changes that increase the Department’s long-term liabilities include defined benefit pension plan changes and postretirement benefits other than pensions. Any changes made by the Contractor shall be in accordance with and pursuant to the terms and conditions of the contract. Advance notification, rather than approval, is required for changes that do not increase costs and are not contrary to Departmental policy or written instruction.
(2) The “Employee Benefits Value Study” and an “Employee Benefits Cost Survey Comparison” are methodologies designed to assist the Contracting Officer in contract administration and oversight. As an alternative to Employee Benefits Cost Survey Comparison, the Contracting Officer may obtain an audit of the Contractor’s compensation and benefits system and of its incurred costs from either DCAA, or from DOE’s independent public accounting firm (under contract with DOE), in accordance with subparagraph (m) to assist in determining whether costs are reasonable, allowable, allocable, and in accordance with the terms of the contract.
(3) Unless otherwise stated, or as directed by the Contracting Officer, the Contractor shall submit the studies required in paragraphs (A) and (B) below. The studies shall be used by the Contractor in calculating the cost of benefits under existing benefit plans. An Employee Benefits Value (Ben-Val) Study Method using no less than 15 comparator organizations and an Employee Benefits Cost Survey comparison Method shall be used in this evaluation to establish an appropriate comparison method. In addition, the Contractor shall submit updated studies to the Contracting Officer for approval prior to the adoption of any change to a pension or other benefit plan which increases costs.
(A) The Ben-Val, every three years for each benefit tier (e.g., group of employees receiving a benefit package based on date of hire), which is an actuarial study of the relative value (RV) of the benefits programs offered by the Contractor to Employees measured against the RV of benefit programs offered by the Contracting Officer approved comparator companies. To the extent that the value studies do not address post retirement benefits other than pensions, the Contractor shall provide a separate cost and plan design data comparison for the post retirement benefits other than pensions using external benchmarks derived from nationally recognized and Contracting Officer approved survey sources.
(B) An Employee Benefits Cost Study Comparison, annually for each benefit tier that analyzes the Contractor’s employee benefits cost for Employees as a percent of payroll and compares it with the cost as a percent of payroll, including geographic factor adjustments, reported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics or other Contracting Officer approved broad based national survey. Alternatively, in accordance with subparagraph (m) the Contracting Officer may obtain an audit of the Contractor’s compensation and benefits system and of its incurred costs from either DCAA or from DOE’s independent public accounting firm (under contract with DOE), and not require the submission of an Employee Benefits Cost Study.
(4) When the net benefit value exceeds the comparator group by more than the percentage threshold established by the Head of the Contracting Activity the Contractor shall submit a corrective action plan to the Contracting Officer for approval, when and if requested in writing by the Contracting Officer.
(5) When the benefit costs as a percent of payroll exceed the comparator group by more than the percentage threshold established by the Head of the Contracting Activity, when and if required by the Contracting Officer, the Contractor shall submit an analysis of the specific plan costs that result in or contribute to the percent of payroll exceeding the costs of the comparator group and submit a corrective action plan if directed by the Contracting Officer.
(6) Within two years, or longer period as agreed to between the Contractor and the Contracting Officer, of Contracting Officer acceptance of the Contractor’s corrective action plan, the Contractor shall align employee benefit programs with the benefit value and cost as percent of payroll in accordance with its corrective action plan.
(7) The Contractor may not terminate any benefit plan during the term of the Contract without the prior approval of the Contracting Officer in writing.
(8) Cost reimbursement for post-retirement benefits other than pensions (PRBs) is contingent on DOE approved service eligibility requirements for PRB that shall be based on a minimum period of continuous employment service not less than 5 years under a DOE cost reimbursement contract(s) immediately prior to retirement. Unless required by Federal or State law, advance funding of PRBs is not allowable.
(9) Each Contractor sponsoring a Defined Benefit pension plan and/or postretirement benefit plan will participate in the annual plan management process which includes written responses to a questionnaire regarding plan management, providing forecasted estimates of future reimbursements in connection with the plan(s) and participating in a conference call to discuss the Contractor submission (see (f)(6) below for Pension Management Plan requirements).
(10) Each Contractor will respond to quarterly data calls issued through iBenefits, or its successor system.
(e) Establishment and Maintenance of Pension Plans for which DOE Reimburses Costs
(1) Employees working for the Contractor shall only accrue credit for service under this Contract after the date of Contract award.
(2) Except for Commingled Plans in existence as of the effective date of the Contract, any pension plan maintained by the Contractor for which DOE reimburses costs, shall be maintained as a separate pension plan distinct from any other pension plan that provides credit for service not performed under a DOE cost-reimbursement contract. When deemed appropriate by the Contracting Officer, Commingled Plans shall be converted to separate plans at the time of new contract award or the extension of a contract.
(f) Basic Requirements
The Contractor shall adhere to the requirements set forth below in the establishment and administration of pension plans that are reimbursed by DOE pursuant to cost reimbursement contracts for management and operation of DOE facilities and pursuant to other cost reimbursement facilities contracts. Pension Plans include Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution plans.
(1) The Contractor shall become a sponsor of the existing pension and other benefit plans (or comparable successor plans), including other PRB plans, as applicable, with responsibility for management and administration of the plans. The Contractor shall be responsible for maintaining the qualified status of those plans consistent with the requirements of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The Contractor shall carry over the length of service credit and leave balances accrued as of the date of the Contractor’s assumption of Contract performance.
(2) Each Contractor defined benefit and defined contribution pension plan shall be subjected to a limited-scope audit annually that satisfies the requirements of ERISA section 103, except that every third year the contractor must conduct a full-scope audit of defined benefit plan(s) satisfying ERISA section 103. Alternatively, the contractor may conduct a full-scope audit satisfying ERISA section 103 annually. In all cases, the Contractor must submit the audit results to the Contracting Officer. In years in which a limited scope audit is conducted, the Contractor must provide the Contracting Officer with a copy of the qualified trustee or custodian’s certification regarding the investment information that provides the basis for the plan sponsor to satisfy reporting requirements under ERISA section 104.
While there is no requirement to submit a full scope audit for defined contribution plans, contractors are responsible for maintaining adequate controls for ensuring that defined contribution plan assets are correctly recorded and allocated to plan participants.
(3) For existing Commingled Plans, the Contractor shall maintain and provide annual separate accounting of DOE liabilities and assets as for a Separate Plan.
(4) For existing Commingled Plans, the Contractor shall be liable for any shortfall in the plan assets caused by funding or events unrelated to DOE contracts.
(5) The Contractor shall comply with the requirements of ERISA if applicable to the pension plan and any other applicable laws.
(6) The Pension Management Plan (PMP) shall include a discussion of the Contractor’s plans for management and administration of all pension plans consistent with the terms of the Contract. The PMP shall be submitted in the iBenefits system, or its successor system no later than January 31st of each applicable year. A full description of the necessary reporting will be provided in the annual management plan data request. Within sixty (60) days after the date of the submission, appropriate Contractor representatives shall participate in a conference call to discuss the Contractor’s PMP submission and any other current plan issues or concerns.
(g) Reimbursement of Contractors for Contributions to Defined Benefit Pension Plans
(1) Contractors that sponsor single employer or multiple employer defined benefit pension plans will be reimbursed for the annual required minimum contributions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as amended by the Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 and any other subsequent amendments. Reimbursement above the annual minimum required contribution will require prior approval of the Contracting Officer. Minimum required contribution amounts will take into consideration all pre-funding balances and funding standard carryover balances. Early in the fiscal year but no later than the end of November, the Contractor requesting above the minimum may submit/update a business case for funding above the minimum if preliminary approval is needed prior to the Pension Management Plan process. The business case shall include a projection of the annual minimum required contribution and the proposed contribution above the minimum. The submission of the business case will provide the opportunity for the Department to provide preliminary approval, within 30 days after contractor submission, pending receipt of final estimates, generally after January 1st of the calendar year. Final approval of funding will be communicated by the Head of Contracting Activity (HCA) when discount rates are finalized and it is known whether there are any budget issues with the proposed contribution amount.
(2) Contractors that sponsor multi-employer DB pension plans will be reimbursed for pension contributions in the amounts necessary to ensure that the plans are funded to meet the annual minimum requirement under ERISA, as amended by the PPA. However, reimbursement for pension contributions above the annual minimum contribution required under ERISA, as amended by the PPA, will require prior approval of the Contracting Officer and will be considered on a case by case basis. Reimbursement amounts will take into consideration all pre-funding balances and funding standard carryover balances. Early in the fiscal year but no later than the end of November, the Contractor requesting above the minimum may submit/update a business case for funding above the minimum if preliminary approval is needed prior to the Pension Management Plan process. The business case shall include a projection of the annual minimum required contribution and the proposed contribution above the minimum. The submission of the business case will provide the opportunity for the Department to provide preliminary approval, within 30 days after contractor submission, pending receipt of final estimates, generally after January 1st of the calendar year. Final approval of funding will be communicated by the HCA when discount rates are finalized and it is known whether there are any budget issues with the proposed contribution amount.
(h) Reporting Requirements for Designated Contracts
The following reports shall be submitted to DOE as soon as possible after the last day of the plan year by the Contractor responsible for each designated pension plan funded by DOE but no later than the dates specified below:
(1) Actuarial Valuation Reports. The annual actuarial valuation report for each DOE-reimbursed pension plan and when a pension plan is commingled, the Contractor shall submit separate reports for DOE’s portion and the plan total by the due date for filing IRS Form 5500.
(2) Forms 5300. Copies of all forms in the 5300 series submitted to the IRS that document the establishment, amendment, termination, spin-off, or merger of a plan submitted to the IRS.
(i) Changes to Pension and PRB Plans
No presumption of allowability will exist when the Contractor makes changes to existing pension plans or PRB plans, and the Contractor has not provided the Contracting Officer the opportunity to review the allowability of the changes prior to implementation. The Contractor shall submit for prior approval changes that result in increases to the Department’s long-term pension and PRB liabilities that are reported in the Department’s financial statement. Examples of changes that increase the Department’s long-term liabilities include defined benefit pension plan changes and PRB plan changes. At least sixty (60) days prior to the adoption of any changes to a pension plan, the Contractor shall submit the information required below to the Contracting Officer. The Contracting Officer must approve plan changes that increase costs that increase the Department’s long-term liabilities as part of a determination as to whether the costs are deemed allowable pursuant to FAR 31.205-6, as supplemented by DEAR 970.3102-05-6.
(1) For proposed changes to pension plans and pension plan funding, the Contractor shall provide the following to the Contracting Officer:
(A) a copy of the current plan document (as conformed to show all prior plan amendments), with the proposed new amendment indicated in redline/strikeout;
(B) an analysis of the impact of any proposed changes on actuarial accrued liabilities and costs;
(C) except in circumstances where the Contracting Officer indicates that it is unnecessary, a legal explanation of the proposed changes from the counsel used by the plan for purposes of compliance with all legal requirements applicable to private sector defined benefit pension plans;
(D) the Summary Plan Description; and,
(E) any such additional information as requested by the Contracting Officer.
(2) Contractors shall submit new benefit plans and changes to plan design or funding methodology with justification to the Contracting Officer for approval, as applicable [see (d)(1) above]. The justification must:
(A) demonstrate the effect of the plan changes on the contract net benefit value or percent of payroll benefit costs,
(B) provide the dollar estimate of savings or costs, and
(C) provide the basis of determining the estimated savings or cost.
(j) Terminating Operations
When operations at a designated DOE facility are terminated and no further work is to occur under the prime contract, the following apply:
(1) No further benefits for service shall accrue.
(2) The Contractor shall provide a determination statement in its settlement proposal, defining and identifying all liabilities and assets attributable to the DOE contract.
(3) The Contractor shall base its pension liabilities attributable to DOE contract work on the market value of annuities or lump sum payments or dispose of such liabilities through a competitive purchase of annuities or lump sum payouts.
(4) Assets shall be determined using the “accrual-basis market value” on the date of termination of operations.
(5) DOE and the Contractor(s) shall establish an effective date for spinoff or plan termination. On the same day as the Contractor notifies the IRS of the spinoff or plan termination, all plan assets assigned to a spun-off or terminating plan shall be placed in a low-risk liability matching portfolio until the successor trustee, or an insurance company, is able to assume stewardship of those assets.
(k) Terminating Plans
(1) DOE contractors shall not terminate any pension plan (Commingled or site specific) without requesting Departmental approval at least 60 days prior to the scheduled date of plan termination.
(2) To the extent possible, the Contractor shall satisfy plan liabilities to plan participants by the purchase of annuities through competitive bidding on the open annuity market or lump sum payouts. The Contractor shall apply the assumptions and procedures of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
(3) Funds to be paid or transferred to any party as a result of settlements relating to pension plan termination or reassignment shall accrue interest from the effective date of termination or reassignment until the date of payment or transfer.
(4) If ERISA or IRC rules prevent a full transfer of excess DOE reimbursed assets from the terminated plan, the Contractor shall pay any deficiency directly to DOE according to a schedule of payments to be negotiated by the parties.
(5) On or before the same day as the Contractor notifies the IRS of the spinoff or plan termination, all plan assets assigned to a spun-off or terminating plan shall be placed in a low-risk liability matching portfolio until the successor trustee, or an insurance company, is able to assume stewardship of those assets.
(6) DOE liability to a Commingled pension plan shall not exceed that portion which corresponds to DOE contract service. The DOE shall have no other liability to the plan, to the plan sponsor, or to the plan participants.
(7) After all liabilities of the plan are satisfied, the Contractor shall return to DOE an amount equaling the asset reversion from the plan termination and any earnings which accrue on that amount because of a delay in the payment to DOE. Such amount and such earnings shall be subject to DOE audit. To effect the purposes of this paragraph, DOE and the contractor may stipulate to a schedule of payments.
(l) Special Programs
Contractors must advise DOE and receive prior approval for each early-out program, window benefit, disability program, plan-loan feature, employee contribution refund, asset reversion, or incidental benefit.
(m) Alternate Contractor Human Resource Requirements
(1) Alternatively, the Contracting Officer may obtain an audit of the Contractor’s compensation and benefits system and of its incurred costs from either DCAA or from DOE’s independent public accounting firm (under contract with DOE); if the Contracting Officer does, the Contractor will not be required to submit the:
(A) Compensation Increase Plan; and/or
(B) Employee Benefits Cost
(1) Commingled Plans. Cover employees from the Contractor’s private operations and its DOE contract work.
(2) Current Liability. The sum of all plan liabilities to employees and their beneficiaries. Current liability includes only benefits accrued to the date of valuation. This liability is commonly expressed as a present value.
(3) Defined Benefit Pension Plan. Provides a specific benefit at retirement that is determined pursuant to the formula in the pension plan document.
(4) Defined Contribution Pension Plan. Provides benefits to each participant based on the amount held in the participant’s account. Funds in the account may be comprised of employer contributions, employee contributions, investment returns on behalf of that plan participant and/or other amounts credited to the participant’s account.
(5) Designated Contract. For purposes of this clause, a contract (other than a prime cost reimbursement contract for management and operation of a DOE facility) for which the Head of the Departmental Contracting Activity determines that advance pension understandings are necessary or where there is a continuing Departmental obligation to the pension plan.
(6) Pension Fund. The portfolio of investments and cash provided by employer and employee contributions and investment returns. A pension fund exists to defray pension plan benefit outlays and (at the option of the plan sponsor) the administrative expenses of the plan.
(7) Separate Accounting. Account records established and maintained within a commingled plan for assets and liabilities attributable to DOE contract service. NOTE: The assets so represented are not for the exclusive benefit of any one group of plan participants.
(8) Separate Plan. Must satisfy IRC Sec. 414(l) definition of a single plan, designate assets for the exclusive benefit of employees under DOE contract, exist under a separate plan document (having its own Department of Labor plan number) that is distinct from corporate plan documents and identify the Contractor as the plan sponsor.
(9) Spun-off Plan. A new plan which satisfies IRC Reg. 1.414 (l)-1 requirements for a single plan, and which is created by separating assets and liabilities from a larger original plan. The funding level of each individual participant’s benefits shall be no less than before the event, when calculated on a “plan termination basis.”