In celebration of Labor Day, President Obama on September 7, 2015 announced an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide minimum amounts of paid sick leave to their employees. This rule follows others, such as the $10.10 mandatory minimum wage, that make a broad statement but apply only to employers who do business with the federal government, and whose employment relationships the White House can affect directly, without having to go through Congress.
When the rule takes effect January 1, 2017, covered employers will have to provide seven (7) days or more of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care. The rules are quite specific and provide, among other things, that:
The Secretary of Labor will be responsible for enforcing the law, including issuing regulations and prosecuting any retaliation claims. It remains to be seen whether the regulations will permit employers who offer paid time off (PTO) in lieu of separate sick or vacation leave to continue that practice, so long as the leave may be used in a manner consistent with the Presidential directive.
The benefits available to federal employees under this Executive Order are somewhat more generous and the employee responsibilities more relaxed than those available under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or any other federal law – for example, it would cover going to court to apply for a protective order against an abusive domestic partner.
The effective date of January 1, 2017 is just weeks before the inauguration of our next President, and he or she will have the right unilaterally to rescind this Executive Order.
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