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More Paid Sick Leave on the Horizon? Draft Executive Order Calls for Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors.

The New York Times reported yesterday that it received a draft executive order marked “pre-decisional and deliberative,” which contemplates granting a minimum of 56 hours of paid sick leave per year to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.  The impact of such an order, were it to become legally binding, would be significant, affecting hundreds of thousands of workers across the U.S.

According to the New York Times, under the draft executive order, employers would be required to allow unused paid sick leave to accrue year after year, and employers could not condition the use of paid leave on a worker finding a replacement to fill in for his or her shift. Paid sick leave could be used for an employee’s own illness or that of a family member and would also apply to absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee.

At this early stage, we still have many unanswered questions:  Can contractors’ and subcontractors’ existing Paid Time Off (PTO) policies satisfy the draft executive order’s mandate?  Will there be limits on any carryover requirement?  Must accrued but unused paid sick time be paid out to employees upon termination?  May contractors and subcontractors seek notice and proof of illness?

Until these and a host of other questions have been answered, employers who have not already made the shift to paid sick leave can only do so much to prepare.

Several states, including Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon, have already implemented paid sick leave laws.  In addition, a slew of counties and municipalities have done the same—San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Philadelphia, to name a few.  The White House’s draft order marks a continued trend, this time on the national level.

We will keep our eyes and ears open for new developments related to the passage or details of this draft executive order.  Whatever comes, we anticipate that any order will provide sufficient time for employers to adapt their current policies and payroll practices to the new mandate.

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Erin Horton