Paid Sick Leave Rule for Federal Contractors Proposed

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 3, 2016

The Department of Labor (DOL) has published a proposed rule to implement President Obama's 2015 executive order requiring federal contractors to offer their employees up to seven days of paid sick leave per year.

Under the proposed rule, employees could use their paid sick leave not only for their own conditions, but also to care for sick children, parents, spouses or partners. They also would be able to use it to take time off for incidents related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

In announcing the rule, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said, "Too many workers this morning had to choose between their health and their paycheck. They had to weigh the benefits of treating their cough or fever with the costs of losing a day's pay or putting their jobs on the line."

Perez estimates that the executive order will provide additional paid sick leave to an estimated 828,000 US workers. He notes that nearly 437,000 of those employees of contractors currently receive no paid sick leave.

The proposed rule would apply to new contracts or replacement contracts with the federal government awarded on or after January 1, 2017. For contracts entered into in 2017 or later, workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Also, while the proposal lets contractors limit the amount of paid sick leave employees can annually accrue to 56 hours per year, it notes that contractors must allow employees to carry over any unused leave into the following year.

President Obama has previously proposed extending paid sick leave to all employees, but Republicans in Congress have blocked these initiatives. However, a growing number of states have passed their own paid sick leave legislation, including:

In addition, more than 20 municipalities have passed paid sick and safe leave laws.

Interested parties may submit written comments on the proposed rule by March 28, 2016.