Labor Day brings Cheer to Federal Contract Workers | DCR Workforce Blog

Labor Day brings Cheer to Federal Contract Workers

Labor Day brings Cheer to Federal Contract WorkersPresident Obama delivered a nice Labor Day gift to federal contract workers. An Executive Order signed this Labor Day requires federal contractors to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave in a year to employees performing work on covered contracts and subcontracts. The order applies to government contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2017.

What it means to Workers:

Under this order, federal contract workers, whether full time or part-time, permanent or contingent, become eligible to an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Approximately 300,000 workers, who do not enjoy paid sick leave at the moment, are expected to be covered by this order.

What the Order prescribes:

According to the Executive Order, the use of paid sick leave needs to follow the following process:

  • Paid sick leave may be used not only for a worker’s health purposes but also to take care of one’s sick child, spouse or domestic partner or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship).
  • It could also be used when a worker needs time off to recover from or deal with situations requiring care, counseling, relocation, legal assistance, or civil or criminal legal proceedings related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • The paid time off may be used for absences relating to physical or mental illness, injury, or a medical condition or to seek diagnosis or care from a health care provider.
  • When paid sick leave is accrued but not used in a calendar year, it will get carried over to the next year.
  • When an employee is separated from a covered contractor, but reinstated within the next 12 months, the accrued sick leave must also be reinstated.
  • Wherever practical, the worker must give at least seven days’ prior notice of the need to take leave. If the worker takes more than three consecutive workdays of leave, certifications supporting the need for leave must be provided within 30 days from the first day of leave.
  • Accrued paid sick leave needs to be carried over each year, and contractors cannot limit the accrual to less than 56 hours.
  • Employers will not be required to pay out accrued sick leave to employees who are being terminated.

What it means to Employers:

The order does not restrict federal contractors from providing even more generous benefits to their workers and paid sick leave, should they choose to do so. Employers who already have sick leave programs may take the time over the next year to review their program and bring it in line with what is prescribed by the Order.

The President again has used Executive Order to promote his positions on worker rights, hoping that the position taken with regard to federal workers will encourage the private sector to follow suit. Though paid sick leave laws for private workers are mandated only by California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, no other state requires private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Many companies voluntary offer paid sick leave, arguing that it provides a competitive differentiator and enhances their brand as a destination workplace.

We will continue to monitor whether this Executive Order will be followed by a larger movement toward paid sick leave. In the meantime, we ask you to weigh in on this issue.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.