Contractor Paid Sick Leave Proposal Moves to OMB

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By Ben Penn

Dec. 18 — An upcoming Labor Department proposed rule that would require federal contractors to provide employees with up to seven days of paid sick leave per year has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

The proposal, which would implement an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in September (173 DLR AA-1, 9/8/15)(17 MBP 1, 10/1/15)(13 WLR, 9/18/15)(42 BPR 1641, 9/15/15)(33 HRR 960, 9/14/15)(2015 HRKCN, 9/14/15)(175 PBD, 9/10/15)(61 CLR 659, 9/10/15)(29 LRW 1793, 9/9/15)(2015 HRDSN, 9/9/15)(169 CBEM, 9/9/15)(See previous story, 09/09/15), was sent to the OMB Dec. 15, according to the office's website. In its latest regulatory agenda, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division estimated it would issue the proposed rule in February 2016 (224 DLR AA-1, 11/20/15)(2015 HRKCN 1130, 11/30/15)(33 HRR 1265, 11/30/15)(61 CLR 959, 11/26/15)(29 LRW 2426, 11/25/15)(2015 HRDSN 327, 11/23/15)(220 CBEM, 11/23/15).

The WHD conducted “a lot of outreach” before crafting the proposal, WHD Administrator David Weil told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 17 interview. Now that it's been submitted to the OMB, “we’re right on schedule for a proposed rule by February,” Weil said.

The president's order is intended to apply to new government contracts starting in 2017. It calls for workers to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. They would be allowed to use the leave to care for themselves or a family member and for absences resulting from sexual assault or domestic violence.

After the proposal is issued, there will be a period for the public to submit comments. The WHD then has a deadline of Sept. 30, 2016, to issue a final rule. The president included the deadline in his executive order.

Weil said the division is “very confident that we'll be able to stay on schedule and be able to get it out by September.” He pointed to the experience of producing an earlier regulation to fulfill an executive order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors (60 CLR 851, 10/9/14)(28 LRW 2133, 10/8/14)(102 FCR 416, 10/7/14)(2014 HRKCN, 10/6/14)(32 HRR 1041, 10/6/14)(12 WLR 1571, 10/3/14)(2014 HRDSN, 10/2/14)(190 DLR AA-1, 10/1/14)(39 AACM 74, 10/31/14).

“We learned a lot from the minimum wage executive order. Some of the mechanics of coverage have similar kinds of features, so that helped us think about this rule,” Weil said. “As always, we need to see what the comments are from the stakeholder community, and we’ll respond to that.”

Reaction Mixed.

When the paid sick leave executive order was publicized, Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize it for creating hurdles for small businesses to work with the government. Organizations such as the Professional Services Council said the order was the latest example of the president improperly using the federal procurement process as a vehicle to achieve social policy objectives.

Democrats and worker advocacy groups, meanwhile, hailed the paid sick leave order for correcting a public health issue and propelling a national movement to extend various types of paid leave to the entire workforce.

Congress remains largely divided over efforts to secure paid sick leave for private sector workers. Democrats have sponsored legislation to similarly require employers to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave, while some Republicans favor a bill that would allow employers to offer paid time off in lieu of overtime wages.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at