President Issues Executive Order Requiring Federal Government Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave

On Labor Day, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will force businesses with contracts with the federal government to provide employees with seven days or more (56+ hours) of paid sick leave each year. According to the White House, beginning with new contracts in 2017, workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Companies with federal contracts will be required to allow their employees to use that paid sick leave to care for themselves; to care for a family member such as a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or another loved one; or, for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The Administration estimates that when the Executive Order takes effect in 2017 it will expand paid leave benefits to an additional 300,000 people.

The Executive Order requires paid sick leave to carry over from year to year. Although companies will not have to pay out accrued sick leave when an employee leaves the company, if that employee is rehired by a covered company within 12 months after a job separation, the employee’s accrued paid sick leave will carry over from his or her previous company. To use the sick leave, employees must give at least seven days oral or written notice, except when not practicable. An employee needs to provide a doctor’s note only if he or she misses three or more consecutive days of work. The use of paid sick leave cannot be made contingent on the requesting employee finding a replacement to cover any work time that will be missed.

The issuance of the Executive Order follows an uptick in the number of jurisdictions also requiring paid leave. Nationwide, laws requiring that private employers provide paid sick days to their employees and in effect in the states of Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Oregon and in the District of Columbia. In addition, 20 different cities have some requirement that private sector employers provide paid sick leave to their employees. Companies working in a state or city which has a more generous paid sick leave law will be required to meet those heightened requirements beyond those contained in the new Executive Order.

Employers should take note that the Minneapolis City Council is currently considering imposing some form of paid sick leave requirement on businesses operating within the City. Among those proposals under consideration are requirements that all employers employing more than one employee give each employee one hour of earned time off for every 30 hours worked and that those hours be allowed to accrue and carry over to the employee’s new employer in the event the employee switches jobs.

If you have questions about this article or if you want to learn more about how this Executive Order might affect your own business, please contact Martin Kappenman at mkappenman@seatonlaw.com or any of the Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A. attorneys.

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