DOL Rule Directs Federal Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave

The agency said it means up to 56 hours of paid leave per year will be offered to an estimated 1.15 million employees, including 594,000 workers who currently receive no paid sick leave.

The U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule Sept. 29 that directs federal contractors to provide paid sick leave -- 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. 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. "That means you are covered if you are doing the work called for in the contract or you are doing work necessary to the performance of the contract even if it is work not specifically called for in the contract," according to DOL, which added that 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).

Employers that must provide sick leave are 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; DOL said the rule means up to 56 hours of paid leave per year will be offered to an estimated 1.15 million employees, including 594,000 workers who currently receive no paid sick leave.

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. "Part of the basic bargain of America is that if you work hard, you should be able to take care of your family," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Paid sick leave helps workers recover from illness or be there for their families, whether it's to take an elderly parent to the doctor or to stay home with a young child with a fever. It allows working families to focus on what really matters most without having to worry about the next paycheck."

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.

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