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Legal Insider: Executive Order Gives Federal Contractor Employees Paid Sick Leave

by Kimberly Berry — September 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1 Comment

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

On September 7, 2015, President Obama signed an executive order establishing paid sick leave for federal contractors and subcontractors. The order is an attempt to promote economy and increase efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by employees who contract with the federal government. Federal contractors and subcontractors can earn up to seven days or more of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care. The order does not supersede any federal, state or local laws, and collective bargaining agreements that provide better benefits.

Pursuant to the order, paid leave can be used for illness, injury, or medical condition; obtaining medical diagnosis or care, including preventative care, from a health care provider; caring for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or any other blood relative or closely-associated equivalent of a family relation; and for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employees will be permitted to carry over unused leave from one year to the next. Unused leave will be reinstated for employees rehired within 12 months post-separation by a covered federal contractor or subcontractor. However, employees must request paid sick leave orally or in writing at least seven calendar days in advance of when the need for leave is foreseeable, and in other cases as soon as is practicable. Health care certification or documentation, required no later than 30 days from the first day of leave, is only required if the employee is absent for three or more consecutive workdays.

This is the latest action taken by President Obama in a series of administrative actions aimed at providing benefits to employees. By September 30, 2016, the Secretary of Labor will issue regulations to implement the order. However, it is important that federal contractors and subcontractors note that once the order becomes effective on January 1, 2017, executive departments and agencies will require that new government contracts, contract-like instruments, and solicitations, including lower-tier subcontracts, include a provision specifying that all employees in the performance of the contract or any subcontract thereunder shall earn not less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. If the federal contractor or subcontractor already maintains a sick leave benefits policy that includes the same or greater paid sick leave benefits, the existing policy will satisfy the order’s requirements.

We represent employees in federal employment matters nationwide, as well as private and public sector employees in employment matters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

  • darby sat

    I noticed in a different article that the executive order covers those who work under the Services Contract Act (SCA). Since the word “services” is used in two different ways within federal contracting (i.e. those who perform non-professional services, such as working in maintaince positions emptying trash cans, changing lightbulbs, or cafeteria workers; and those who are performing skilled services, such as system engineers and computer programmers), who is actually covered under this executive order? The mention of the SCA would suggest the order only covers unskilled labor, however, if it covers all services, a number of large contractors, who employ skilled labor give employees Paid Time Off, so does this mean they must transition PTO to a paid vacation/sick leave policy?

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