Mandated Paid Sick Leave Executive Order Drafted

An executive order has been drafted forcing any company that contracts with the federal government, contractors or subcontractors, to issue seven (7) days (56 hours) of paid leave to employees who are sick, are seeking medical attention, or need to care for a sick relative.

The draft order would affect potentially hundreds of thousands of workers, since it is aimed at contractors and subcontractors. Paid sick leave may not sound like a big deal, but employers are concerned that it will pose significant administrative headaches and coordination-of-leave challenges, in addition to requiring policy changes.

According to President Obama, “Today, we are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave—43 million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”

The confidential draft, marked “pre-decisional and deliberative,” covers — for a minimum of 56 hours a year, or about seven days — not just an employee’s illness but also caring for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, “or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

Employers would also be required to allow unused paid leave to accrue, year after year.

The draft order states that an employer could not make paid leave contingent on a worker finding a replacement to fill in for them. The implementation of the order would have no impact on requirements that federal contractors pay the “prevailing wage” of the area where the work is done.

Under the draft executive order, paid sick leave would be available for:

  • A physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition.
  • Obtaining diagnosis, care or preventive care from a health care provider.
  • 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.
  • An absence resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Paid sick time would carry over from one year to the next and be reinstated for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation.

The paid sick time would have to be provided in response to an oral or written request made, if possible, at least seven calendar days in advance.

Certification by a health care provider for paid sick time may be required only for paid sick time for three or more consecutive workdays under the draft order. And the certification would be provided no later than 30 days from the first day of the leave.

The draft order also provides that its mandate shall not excuse noncompliance with any law, ordinance or collective bargaining agreement that requires greater paid sick time or leave rights.

Department of Labor regulations implementing the order would be required by Sept. 30, 2016, under the draft. And the order would apply to contracts initiated on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

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