President Obama’s Order Requires Federal Contractors to Offer Paid Sick Leave

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Sep 8, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

Happy Tuesday to you. I hope that you had a nice mustard-covered-hot-dog-filled Labor Day.

Me? I went miniature golfing with four kids. It was pretty sweet, I tell you.

But, did you see the news yesterday? President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to ensure that employees on those contracts can earn up to seven (7) days or more (56 plus hours) of paid sick leave annually.

OK, how about the details…

Categories of paid sick leave

  • Physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition;
  • Obtaining diagnosis, care, or preventive care from a health care provider;
  • Domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the time absent from work is for the purposes otherwise described above, to obtain additional counseling, to seek relocation, to seek assistance from a victim services organization, to take related legal action, including preparation for or participation in any related civil or criminal legal proceeding; or,
  • Caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, a domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship who has any of the conditions or needs described above.

The fine print on paid sick leave

Paid sick leave can carry over from year to year. However, an employer does not have to pay out accrued leave when an employee separates from the company.

Employees must give at least seven (7) days oral or written notice, except when not practicable. And, the employee only needs to provide a doctor’s note if he/she misses three or more consecutive days of work.

Plus, there is no “undue hardship” defense available to the employer. Specifically, the use of paid sick leave cannot be made contingent on the requesting employee finding a replacement to cover any work time to be missed.

Finally, if the state or city in which you operate has a more generous paid sick leave law, that law trumps the federal law.

Don’t wait too long to update your policies

Many employers already provide paid sick leave to their employees. In his story at the Huffington Post, Dave Jamieson cites BLS data indicating that 61 percent of private-sector employees already receive paid sick leave. A White House Fact Sheet indicates that this Executive Order, which will go into effect in 2017, will provide paid sick leave to an addition 300,000 employees.

This Executive Order comes on the heels of impending overtime changes to the FLSA regulations, which is designed to increase compensation paid out to employees making less than $50,000.

Many believe that these changes will take effect in 2016. So, pretty soon would be a pretty good time to review your policies and procedures and prepare for these changes.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.