Contractors Advised to Tread Carefully on Sick Leave

The HR & Payroll Resource Center is your integrated, comprehensive source for HR and Payroll information that merges news, analysis, and guidance – including custom answers,...

By Deborah Billings

Aug. 24 — Government contractors should train managers in how to respond to requests for paid sick leave without running afoul of anti-retaliation protections, Joshua Alloy, counsel in Arnold & Porter LLP's Washington, D.C., labor and employment group, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 21.

A draft executive order requiring paid sick leave for federal contract workers includes “strong” prohibitions against interfering with employees' rights to that leave, Alloy said.

Under the draft order, employees working on covered contracts would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a 56-hour cap on the total amount of sick leave. The requirements would apply to contractor employees working on covered contracts.

The draft order directs the Labor Department to issue regulations to enforce the paid sick leave requirements by Sept. 30, 2016.

Managers Should Be Trained

All managers should be carefully trained to handle sick leave requests to make sure they can't be accused of retaliating, Alloy said. This is an area where it could be “very easy to slip up,” he said.

In light of the draft order, Alloy advised contractors to be proactive if they're considering bidding on contracts that would be covered. Steps they can take include setting up systems to track accrual and use of paid sick leave, determining compliance and benefit costs, and instituting anti-retaliation measures.

The draft order is “very, very similar” to paid sick leave laws in various cities and states, such as those recently implemented by New York City, Washington, D.C., and California, Alloy said. According to a recent report from the White House, 17 cities and counties have implemented paid sick leave policies since January 2014.

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s Family and Medical Leave chapter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Deborah Billings in Washington at dbillings@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeff Kinney at jeffkinney@bna.com