Yesterday (September 7, 2015), while most workers were celebrating Labor Day, President Obama signed an Executive Order mandating that private employers doing business with the federal government provide paid sick leave to those employees working under federal contracts. Under the Order, beginning January 1, 2017, all federal contractors and subcontractors must agree to grant each employee working under the contract (or subcontract) at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees may accrue up to 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick leave per year. Accrued, unused sick leave will carry over from year to year, subject to the 56 hour annual accrual cap. There is no requirement to pay accrued, unused sick leave upon termination of employment.

Sick leave may be used by employees for absences resulting from (i) the employee’s or the employee’s family member’s physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition or need for diagnosis, care, or preventive care from a health care provider or (ii) for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking-related reasons, including to obtain additional counseling, to seek relocation, to seek assistance from a victim services organization, to take related legal action, including preparation for or participation in any related civil or criminal legal proceeding. Family member includes a child, a parent, a spouse, a domestic partner, or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Employees must notify the employer of the need for leave at least seven days in advance if the need for leave is foreseeable and in other cases, as soon as is practicable. The Order specifies the conditions under which an employer may require documentation and/or certification of the need for leave.

The Order requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate regulations by September 30, 2016 and directs federal agencies to ensure that contracts entered into after January 1, 2017 comply with the Order’s requirements.