Draft Order Mandates Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors
President Obama has drafted an executive order that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees, the New York Times reports.
Details of Draft Order
If implemented, federal contractors and subcontractors must provide at least 56 hours, or about seven days, of paid sick leave. It also would require affected contractors to allow the paid leave to accrue from year to year. Employees would then be able to use the leave if they are ill or to care for:
- A child;
- A parent;
- A 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."
In addition, the draft order would allow employees to use the leave for absences related to instances of:
- Domestic violence;
- Sexual assault; and
However, leave taken in such instances must be used for individuals to:
- Obtain medical care;
- Obtain counseling;
- Prepare for criminal or civil proceedings; or
- Seek relocation assistance from victims' services resources.
In addition, the draft order prohibits affected employers from requiring employees to find someone to replace them while they are absent. Further, the draft order states that the leave policy should have no effect on requirements that federal contractors pay employees the "prevailing wage" found in the area where they work.
The Department of Labor was scheduled to approve the order and send it back to the White House Wednesday. While a Labor spokesperson would not confirm whether a final decision on the draft order had been made, the official said since Congress has not taken action on the issue, the Obama administration "continue[s] to explore ways to expand access" to paid sick leave (Weisman, New York Times, 8/5). According to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Labor Secretary Tom Perez last week in a blog post wrote, "We just aren't moving quickly enough. We need a national policy on paid sick leave, and we need it now" (Lederman, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/5).
According to the Times, detailed regulations of the draft order will be issued by the Labor Secretary by Sept. 30 of next year.
According to the Times, if the draft order is approved it could have broad implications, affecting hundreds of thousands of individuals employed by federal contractors. In addition, some observers have said such an order could affect paid sick leave policies at other businesses. Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said, "You can build an expectation that paid sick leave comes with a job," adding, "Changes in cultural norms matter" (New York Times, 8/5).
Paid Sick Leave Proposal Stalls in Congress
In related news, Senate Republicans on Wednesday stalled a push from Democrats to advance legislation that would guarantee employees' access to paid sick leave, The Hill's "Floor Action" reports.
The bill would require employers to allow workers to receive as many as seven paid sick days annually.
According to "Floor Action," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) tried to obtain unanimous consent to schedule a vote on the proposal by Oct. 30. However, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) blocked Murray's push, which he claimed to do on behalf of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). He called the proposal a political push from Democrats that "is not designed to get anything actually done." He said, "It was a show to try to claim political advantage and to try to create a narrative that simply isn't borne out by the facts" (Carney, "Floor Action," The Hill, 8/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.