The commercial sector is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus crisis. But the defense industry and national security workforce are working to ensure continuity of operations in spite of the myriad challenges of doing ‘regular’ business during a pandemic.
Many recruiters anecdotally report they are still hiring, and business development professionals note the defense sector is awarding as many contracts as they did before the pandemic hit, with an influx in new Defense Logistics Agency contracts to provide mobile hospital and medical support. At ClearanceJobs, we dug into the numbers and found the number of cleared job listings across the country was largely unchanged between February 1 and April 1. While the state of Virginia had a 1.37% drop in listings, Maryland saw 29.2% growth, and D.C. 49.14% growth in job listings on the site. For many defense employers, the message has been: we’re still open for business.
CARES Act and Defense Contractors
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides assurances for national security contractors, with specific language allowing for contract changes if employees are unable to come to work because of site closures or telework requirements. Many contracts specify that contractors must be on site to get paid, so the provisions in the CARES Act were important toward keeping contractors employed, even if they’re unable to go to a work site. The Pentagon is also working to provide assurances to contract workers that they’re an essential part of national security, even as the coronavirus creates new business challenges. A memo signed by the Pentagon’s acquisition office Wednesday and obtained by Reuters notes that employers can be paid for sick time, or for healthy workers who are unable to work due to a plant closure. The directive allows the cost of the sick leave to be billed to the government, and applies to both workers who are sick, or healthy workers who are unable to get to their job sites.
The move is a direct effort to help the aerospace industry, which has been hard hit by the crash to the commercial sector along with required plant closures due to the coronavirus. The sick leave announcement comes after several other contract adjustments designed to help keep defense suppliers in business.
While it’s far from business as usual in the national security sector, the combination of legislative and policy updates is making it clear the defense industry will remain in business.