On September 7, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13706, which requires federal contractors and subcontractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The EO applies to contracts entered into after January 1, 2017 that are procurement contracts for services or construction; contracts for services covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA); contracts for concessions; or contracts in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public. The EO adds to the small patchwork of state and local paid sick leave laws scattered across the nation.
Accrual of Sick Leave
Pursuant to the EO, sick leave accrues at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers may cap accrual at 56 hours (seven days) per year. Unused sick leave will carry over from one year to the next and must be reinstated for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation.
Unused accrued sick leave does not have to be paid out upon termination.
Use of Sick Leave
Employees may use paid sick leave:
- For the employee’s own illness, injury, medical condition, or when an employee needs to obtain diagnosis, care, or preventative care.
- To care for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or “any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” who has an illness, injury, medical condition, or who needs to obtain diagnosis, care, or preventative care.
- For domestic violence, assault, or stalking situations resulting in an illness, injury, or medical condition or the need for obtaining diagnosis, care, or preventative care.
- To obtain additional counseling, seek relocation, seek assistance from a victim services organization, take related legal action for the employee or one of the above-listed individuals in domestic violence, assault, or stalking situations.
Employers are prohibited from interfering with or discriminating against an employee for taking or attempting to take paid sick leave, or for assisting any other employee in asserting his or her rights to sick leave.
Requests for Leave
Requests for sick leave may be made orally or in writing and must include the expected duration of the leave. If the need for leave is foreseeable, employees must provide at least seven calendar days’ advance notice. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, notice must be provided as soon as practicable. Paid sick leave cannot be made contingent on the requesting employee finding a replacement to cover any work time to be missed.
If an employee is absent for three or more consecutive days on paid sick leave, the contractor is permitted to request a certification from a health care provider (if the absence is related to a medical condition) or from an appropriate individual or organization (if the absence is related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking). The certification must be provided no later than 30 days from the first day of leave.
The EO mandates that the Department of Labor issue regulations concerning the paid sick leave requirements by September 30, 2016. ThinkHR will continue to monitor and report on developments on this issue.