This past week, the New York Times reported that President Obama drafted an order on paid sick leave for federal contractors. While at present this draft is marked as “pre-decisional and deliberative,” many think it is likely to be approved sooner rather than later. The NYT article by Jonathan Weisman says the order would apply to federal contractors and their subcontractors. Here are more specifics:

The order would set a minimum of 56 hours a year of paid sick leave, about seven days, but it is broad in scope. It covers not just an employee’s illness but also caring 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.”

It would apply to absences from work resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, if that time was used to seek medical attention, obtain counseling, seek relocation assistance from victim services organizations or prepare civil or criminal proceedings.

Employers would be ordered to allow unused paid leave to accrue, year after year.

In response to this news, SHRM issued a statement and its own article: Paid Sick Leave Executive Order for Federal Contractors Drafted .

“But in a news statement, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said, “We have strong concerns with mandating paid sick leave through an executive order on federal contractors. Many contractors already provide paid sick leave. Leave mandates often result in employers scaling back leave coverage to conform to mandated minimum standards.”

SHRM stated further that “rather than crafting flexible leave policies that meet the needs of their individual workforces, employers tend to restructure their policies to meet only the requirements enumerated by the government. We don’t believe this type of mandated approach helps employers or employees.”

For another perspective, see Charles Tiefer’s article in Forbes. Tiefer’s opinion on this matter is worth noting: he is a Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, with a focus on government contracting and Congressional legislating. In his article Watch Federal Contractors Stall And Dilute Obama’s Order On Paid Sick Leave, he notes that despite the impressive goals, “the opposing power to stall and to defeat looms large.” He offers three reasons for this and explains them each in some detail:

“First, industry has made clear it will oppose these orders in court.”
“Second, there is a limit to how many contractors will even accept coverage by the order.”
“Third, it takes years to implement an executive order. “

Additional coverage:

Employment law attorneys weigh in at JD Supra Business Advisor

Obama Administration Considering Executive Order Requiring Federal Contractors To Provide Employees Paid Sick Leave Connie Bertram, Guy Brenner

Executive Order Requiring Paid Sick Leave In the Works, Vincent Nelan

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