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Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pay Attention to Payment Clauses in Contracts

Under a Labor Hour contract, a government contractor can legally be paid for 50 hours of work performed by a salaried employee in one week, even though that employee does not receive more than what his salary pays based on 40 hours per week. Although the government claimed that this would let a contractor “pocket undue windfall profits at taxpayer expense,” the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) concluded that the contract required payment.

The contract’s payment clause (FAR 52.232-7 Payment Under Time-and-Materials Labor-hour Contracts [FEB 2007]) required the government to pay the contract’s “hourly rates …for all labor performed on the contract that meets the labor qualifications specified in the contract.” According to the board, as long as the salaried employees received their salary, the government was obligated to pay the contractor for the 50 hours worked by these employees, as long as the contractor paid those employees their salary based on a 40-hour work week.

As this decision makes clear, it is critical to carefully read the specific payment clause in the contract as there can be significant differences among the more than half-dozen payment clauses available to the government.

Author Terrence O’Connor is the Director of Government Contracts for the Washington, DC business law firm, Berenzweig Leonard, LLP.  Email Terrence O’Connor