Paid Sick Leave Now Required for Employees of Federal Contractors
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule Sept. 29 that directs federal contractors to provide paid sick leave. The rule follows an Executive Order from President Obama last year requiring contractors doing work for the federal government on certain contracts to provide paid sick leave. The Rule allows Employers some flexibility on how to dispense the leave time. For example, the DOL said, employers could have workers accrue leave over time, or they could be given the full 56 hours of leave being made available annually to them up front. To eligible, an employee must be working on or in connection with a covered contract in order to accrue and use paid sick leave under the rule. According to the DOL an employee would be eligible if the Employee is doing the work called for in the contract or doing work necessary to the performance of the contract even if it is work not specifically called for in the contract. According to the DOL, the paid sick leave rule does not apply to contracts for the manufacturing or furnishing of materials, supplies, articles, or equipment to the federal government (contracts that are subject to the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act) and applies only to contracts, or portions of contracts, with the federal government performed within the United States (defined as the 50 states and the District of Columbia). Eligible workers will be able to use paid leave if they are sick, need to take care of a sick family member, must see a doctor or take a family member to a medical appointment, or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers who are required to provide sick leave are also required to inform employees in writing at least at the end of each pay period or each month of the amount of paid sick leave they have available. In total, the DOL estimates 1.15 million employees of federal contractors will be covered by the new rule. That includes about 594,000 people who currently do not receive paid sick leave.
The final rule implements Executive Order 13706, which was signed by President Obama on Sept. 7, 2015. DOL reported the rule gives employers latitude in how to best adapt the paid sick leave requirement. For example, they can allow workers to accrue leave over time or to frontload leave for ease of administration.
About 22 percent of the American workforce is employed by companies that do business with the federal government.
— but the rule says only “new” contracts are covered by the new rule. A contract awarded on or after Jan. 1, 2017, is “new,” unless the federal government issued a solicitation for the contract prior to Jan. 1, 2017.