The Law @ Work

New Executive Order Requires Federal Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave

By Kimberly A. Klimczuk

In yet another move to use his executive power to effect change in the employment context, President Obama this week signed an executive order granting federal contract workers the right to earn and use up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.  The order, which appears to be inspired by Massachusetts’s Earned Sick Leave Law, includes the following provisions:

  • Employees must earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year;
  • Employees are allowed to use leave for the employee’s own illness, injury or medical condition or the illness, injury or medical condition of a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner “or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship;” or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
  • Employees must be allowed to carry over unused sick leave from one year to the next;
  • Employers may request documentation of an employee’s need for leave only after the employee has been absent for three or more consecutive work days.

The order also specifies that paid sick leave is in addition to federal contractors’ obligations under the Service Contract Act or Davis Bacon Act and that contractors may not receive credit toward their prevailing wage or fringe benefit obligations for sick leave  provided pursuant to the order.

The Executive Order Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors applies to contracts solicited or awarded after January 1, 2017.  The Secretary of Labor is expected to issue regulations regarding the paid sick leave order by September 30, 2016.

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