On September 7th, 2015 President Obama’s signed an Executive Order to establish paid sick leave for Federal Contractors. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued the following proposed rules for the order on February 25th.

Contracts covered

As defined in the proposed regulations, a covered contract would include any new contract, or subcontract that is a:

  • Contract for construction covered by the Davis-Bacon Act
  • Contract for services covered by the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act
  • Concession contracts and service contracts in connection with Federal property or lands

A “New” contract is defined as one which has been entered into on or after January 1, 2017. Any contract entered into prior to January 1, 2017, which is renewed, extended or amended through negotiations after January 1, 2017, and the changes and/or extensions were not contemplated in the original contract are also covered.

Specifics of Paid Sick Leave

Employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked in connection with a covered contract, which is to be calculated at the end of each work week. Alternatively, contractors can provide an employee with at least 56 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of each accrual year. Paid leave can be carried over from one year to the next, but the contractor is permitted to cap paid sick leave at 56 hours annually.

An employee may use paid sick leave for an absence resulting from:

  1. A physical or mental illness, injury, or own medical condition
  2. Obtaining diagnosis, care or preventative care from a healthcare provider by the employee
  3. Caring for the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, 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 who has any of the conditions or need for diagnosis, care, or preventive care described in (1) or (2);
  4. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the time absent from work is for the purposes described in (1) or (2) or to obtain additional counseling, seek relocation, seek assistance from a victim services organization, take related legal action, or assist an individual related to the employee as described in (3) in engaging in any of these activities

Employees may use as little as an hour of paid sick leave and must be provided with the same pay and benefits they would have received if the employee hadn’t used the leave.

Request for Leave 

An employee can request leave orally or in writing. If an employee’s need for leave is foreseeable, the leave request must be made at least seven calendar days in advance.

Contractors responsibility

If using the accrual method, contractors can cap the amount of hours each employee may accrue to 56 hours each year. Covered contractors must also inform each employee in writing of the amount of paid sick leave they have accrued at least monthly, with. the amount of leave accrued should be calculated at the end of each working week.

Any denial of a request to use paid sick leave must be communicated to the employee in writing, including an explanation for the denial.

A contractor can only require certification for absences of three or more consecutive days. If the paid sick leave is for reasons outlined in points 1, 2 or 3 above, the cert should be issued by a healthcare provider. If the paid sick leave is to deal with domestic violence as outlined in point 4, the documentation provided can be from the appropriate individual or organization with the necessary information to establish a need for the employee to be absent from work.

If an employee is hired by the same contractor, or successor contractor within 12 months after a job separation, any accrued but unused sick time is available to the employee, regardless of whether they are working on the same contract or not.

The DOL is accepting feedback and comments on this proposed rule until March 28th, 2016.