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CALL THE DOCTOR: Executive order establishes new paid sick leave for federal contractors

Authored by attorney Ashley P. Holmes

On September 7, 2015, President Obama signed an executive order establishing paid sick leave requirements for federal contractors. Under the executive order, executive departments and agencies that contract with federal contractors will require that employees of federal contractors and lower-tier subcontractors earn at least one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Contractors must allow employees to collect at least 56 hours of paid sick leave per year and may not require employees to secure a replacement or substitute worker as a condition of using paid sick leave. In addition, any paid sick leave that an employee accrues must carry over from one year to the next, and a contractor must reinstate any accrued sick leave if the contractor rehires an employee within 12 months after a job separation. An employee must give the contractor at least seven (7) calendar days’ oral or written notice if the leave is “foreseeable.” Otherwise, the employee must give notice “as soon as is practicable.” 

Employees may use the paid sick leave for a variety of reasons, including: (i) physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition; (ii) obtaining diagnosis, care or preventative care from a health care provider; (iii) caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, a domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or who has the equivalent of a family relationship. The executive order also allows employees to use paid sick leave for reasons relating to domestic violence and stalking, such as obtaining counseling, relocating, or pursuing legal action; the employee may also use paid sick leave to aid a relative in pursuing similar services. 

The new requirements are in addition to the obligations of the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act and will apply to all “contracts, contract-like instruments, and solicitations” issued or awarded on or after January 1, 2017. 

Obviously, this executive order places several new burdens on federal contractors.  It is of the utmost importance that contractors review and revise their employment practices to ensure compliance – ideally with the assistance of legal professionals.

You can view the executive order here.

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