Paid Sick Leave Mandate Sows Confusion

By on December 1, 2015

Summer Austin Davis and Mary Clay Morgan, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

In an executive order released on Labor Day, President Obama declared that businesses contracting with the United States government must provide employees who work on those contracts with paid sick leave. The paid sick leave mandate will apply to federal contracts solicited or awarded on or after January 1, 2017.

To comply, federal government contractors will need to provide at least one paid hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The Executive Order does authorize contractors to limit the maximum annual paid sick leave an employee can accrue to 56 hours.

The new federal mandate applies a one-size-fits-all policy to diverse companies. As a result, numerous questions arise. Among those questions: What about temporary employees or probationary employees? What level of connection to the project is required for the employee to be covered under the mandate? Would denial be considered an adverse employment action or a material change in the terms and conditions of employment?

If your company already provides paid sick leave to employees, review your policy and confirm that it follows the minimum requirements of the federal paid sick leave mandate. Although the mandate applies only to employees, not independent contractors, it’s important to recall that the U.S. Department of Labor recently declared its opinion that thousands of workers are misclassified as independent contractors.

Take care not to rely solely on the labels the workers wear to determine whether the mandate applies to your company.

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