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The DOL's Final Rule Requires Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

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October 11, 2016 | Legal Alert

Nearly 500,000 federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to provide paid sick leave to employees beginning January 1, 2017, under new regulations just issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

The DOL issued its Final Rule on September 30, implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13706, “Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors.”  It requires federal contractors and subcontractors to provide their employees working on covered government contracts with up to seven days of paid sick leave per year. The DOL estimates that this Final Rule will provide paid sick leave to 1.15 million workers, and could affect 489,419 contractors.

What are covered contracts?

The Final Rule applies to contracts solicited or entered into with the federal government on or after January 1, 2017. The Final Rule sets forth four categories of covered contracts:

The Final Rule broadly defines “contract,” stating that the term “includes all contracts and any subcontracts of any tier thereunder.” 

Are any contracts excluded? 

The Final Rule narrowly excludes from coverage the following types of contracts: 

What types of absences does the paid sick leave cover?

The Final Rule title references “sick leave,” but the unpaid leave must also be available for absences for family care and absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Specifically, paid sick leave applies to:

i. physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition;

ii. obtaining diagnosis, care, or preventive care from a health care provider;

iii. caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, a 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 preventive care described in (i) or (ii) or is otherwise in need of care; or

iv. domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the time absent from work is for the purposes described in (i) or (ii), to obtain additional counseling, to seek relocation, to seek assistance from a victim services organization, or 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 (iii) in engaging in any of these activities. 

The Final Rule defines “equivalent of a family relationship” broadly.  Employees are permitted to use paid sick leave to care for family-like members who does not necessarily have a biological or legal relationship to the employee, including a “close friend” whom the employee considers to be like family. 

When can a contractor require an employee to provide certification or documentation for the use of this paid sick leave? 

I’m a covered contractor, what does this mean for me?

To learn more about the new regulations, or to address other labor and employment issues, we invite you to contact Annie Kernicky, Michael Homans or any other member of Flaster Greenberg's Labor & Employment Practice Group

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