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Department of Labor Increases the SCA Health & Welfare Rate

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has increased the Service Contract Act (SCA) Health & Welfare (H&W) rate from $4.02 per hour to $4.27 per hour effective June 30, 2015. The DOL memorandum can be found here . What does this mean for government contractors? If any federal contracts are subject to the SCA, then employers need to ensure that covered employees are receiving the minimum H&W benefit per hour for the first 40 hours in a week that non-exempt employees work on a covered contract. In addition, on any firm fixed price or time & material contracts, the contractor may be. Read More.

PCAOB Asks Broker-Dealer Auditors to Re-Examine Processes

After reviewing inspections from 2014, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) has urged broker-dealer auditors to take a second look at their audit processes. In its report last week, the PCAOB discovered numerous audit deficiencies that should be addressed, and encouraged firms to better anticipate and address risks that may arise. More details on the PCAOB’s report are available via the Journal of Accountancy website.

PCAOB Announces Cooperative Agreement with HAASOB

Effective immediately, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) and Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (“HAASOB”) have entered into a cooperative agreement concerning the oversight of audit firms bound by both organizations’ regulatory jurisdictions. Similar to the PCAOB’s agreements with other non-U.S. regulators, the partnership with Greece’s audit regulator provides a framework for shared inspections and confidential information to be exchanged according to the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, and offers an agreement on data protection. More on the PCAOB’s cooperative agreements and the press release pertaining to its arrangement with the HAASOB can be found on the U.S. regulator’s website.

New Jersey Court Rules on Whistleblower Protections

Highlighting the split among courts on the Dodd-Frank Act’s definition of a “whistleblower”, the District Court of New Jersey (“the Court”) has ruled that an employee who reports a suspected securities law violation internally is protected by the statute. The case in question, Dressler v. Lime Energy, involved a former Lime Energy employee who reported the company’s alleged infractions to her employers instead of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). An interpretive rule by the SEC notes that an employee does not have to report such infractions to the agency to receive whistleblower protections under the Dodd-Frank Act. For further. Read More.

Technical Q&As on Required Supplementary Information Issued

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has released Technical Question and Answers (Technical Q&As) Section 9180.01, Required Supplementary Information in Historical Prior Periods and Auditor Independence of the Entity. The document offers guidance concerning AU-C Section 730, Required Supplementary Information, which describes required supplementary information (RSI), and calls for the auditor of an organization’s basic financial statements to complete specified procedures related to RSI and report accordingly. Also provided in the Technical Q&As is guidance in circumstances when the RSI covers any historical back periods wherein the auditor did not complete an engagement requiring independence, and whether the auditor. Read More.

Factory Activity at Slowest Pace since October 2013

In a report issued last week, Markit announced that the country’s manufacturing sector for August is performing at its weakest pace in almost two years. Based on the financial data firm’s statistics, the preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index this month is 52.9, down from July’s final reading of 53.8. Analysts cite a lack of growth and weak price pressure as reasons behind the slowdown. The full story on last week’s report is available at Reuters.com.