President Obama picked Labor Day to announce an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees, including 300,000 workers who currently have no paid leave.
Starting in 2017, employees working on federal contracts will be eligible to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year. Leave will accrue at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.
Employees will be able to use paid sick leave to care for themselves, a family member—such as a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or another loved one—as well as for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
An estimated 44 million private-sector workers—about 40% of the total private-sector workforce—do not have access to paid sick leave.
The White House declined to say how many contractors would be required to begin offering paid sick leave for the first time, citing state and local laws that make that calculation difficult.
Most large companies that do business with Uncle Sam, such as aerospace and defense contractors, already offer paid sick leave to most of their employees.
The order is designed to bridge a leave gap that thedoes not cover.
A White House fact sheet noted, “While roughly 60% of workers are eligible under theAct to take unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons for more extended absences, many workers are without coverage for shorter-term health care needs and others may not be able to afford to stay home sick if it means the loss of pay.”