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Analysis

Obama Orders Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave

On Labor Day, President Obama gave Americans who work for federal contractors reason to look forward to 2017. That’s when a new Executive Order guaranteeing them paid time off to care for themselves or a family member goes into effect.

Contractor employees will be able to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked—up to seven days of sick leave per year. Sick time accrued under the order will carry over from year to year and must be reinstated for employees who are rehired by a contractor within 12 months after a job separation. The order expressly forbids contractors from “interfer[ing] with or in any other manner discriminat[ing] against an employee for taking, or attempting to take, paid sick leave.” The new requirements will apply to contracts solicited or awarded after January 1, 2017.

The fact sheet states that “offering paid sick days and paid family leave can benefit employers by reducing turnover and increasing productivity” and “benefit[s] our economy by fostering a more productive workforce.” It emphasizes that the order will also protect public health by ensuring that workers with communicable diseases are able to stay home and recuperate.

Currently, four states, 19 cities, and one county have paid sick leave laws on the books.

Monday’s Executive Order is the latest in a series of unilateral efforts by the White House to improve federal contractors’ labor practices. To recap, in the last 18 months Obama has issued contractor-directed orders:

The combined effect of these measures will benefit millions of American workers and save taxpayers billions of dollars each year.