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By Ben Penn
Feb. 24 — Federal contractors would be required to provide workers with up to seven days of paid sick leave per year under a proposed rule unveiled by the Labor Department Feb. 24.
The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 25 (81 Fed. Reg. 9,591).
Acting on an executive order signed in September, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division proposed mandating that government contractors offer one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of work. Employees could use the time to care for themselves or a family member and for absences resulting from sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
In an accompanying fact sheet, the WHD estimates the rule would extend paid sick leave to nearly 437,000 workers who currently don't receive it at all.
The rule implements President Barack Obama's executive order by defining terms and specifying the types of contracts and employees that are covered. A paid leave requirement would apply to new or renewed contracts beginning in 2017.
The agency rulemaking comes as federal legislation to establish paid leave for much of the overall workforce faces bleak prospects in the Republican-controlled Congress, while state and local initiatives are gaining traction in parts of the country. Vermont, following passage of a bill this month, is poised to become the fifth state, plus Washington, D.C., to enact paid sick leave legislation.
The WHD said that within five years, once more new contracts are reached, the rule would aid 828,000 employees, nearly 400,000 of whom already receive some paid sick leave and would become eligible for more.
Following a 30-day public comment period, the WHD will have until Sept. 30, 2016, to issue a final rule, as required by the terms of the executive order.
For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s Family and Medical Leave chapter.
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