President Obama has signed an executive order outlining the paid sick leave benefits that federal contractors will be required to provide to employees in January 2017. It is estimated that this benefit will affect 300,000 employers who are currently without such benefits. Employees shall earn no less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked under covered contracts, with an annual accrual rate equal to a minimum of 56 hours, or seven days.

Unused sick time can be carried over year after year with no limitation. Unused sick leave is not required to be paid-out to employees upon separation from employment. Although employees who separate from covered employment, but are rehired within twelve months are entitled to have their sick leave reinstated.

Paid sick leave requests can be made orally or in writing, at least seven days prior to the request, or as soon as practicable if the need for leave is unforeseeable. Requests are to include the anticipated duration of the employee’s leave. Employers may not require certification unless an employee is absent for three or more consecutive days.

Employees are entitled to use paid leave for:

I. Physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition

II. Obtaining diagnosis, care, or preventative care from a health provider

III. 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 who has any of the conditions or needs for diagnosis, care, or preventative care described above in I and II or is otherwise in need of care

IV. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the time absent from work is for the purposes otherwise described in paragraph I and II above, 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, or to assist an individual related to the employee as described in paragraph III of this subsection in engaging in any of these activities.

The contracts to which the Order applies will generally include any new contract or contract-like instrument, provided:

(i)  (A) it is a procurement contract for services or construction;

(B) it is a contract or contract-like instrument for services covered by the Service Contract Act;

(C) it is a contract or contract-like instrument for concessions, including any concessions contract excluded by Department of Labor regulations at 29 CFR 4.133 (b); or

(D) it is a contract or contract-like instrument entered into with the Federal Government in connection with Federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public; and

(ii) The wages of employees under such contract or contract-like instrument are governed by the Davis-Bacon Act, the Service Contract Act, or the Fair Labor Standards Act, including employees who qualify for an exemption from its minimum wage and overtime provisions.

Independent federal agencies are strongly encouraged, but not required to comply with the requirements of the Order. The Executive Order also contains anti-discrimination, anti-interference, and anti-retaliation provisions, and calls for the Department of Labor to implement any necessary regulations under the Order by September 30, 2016.