The USDOL has announced a proposed rule for implementing the President’s Executive Order, which would require federal government contractors to offer employees up to seven days of paid sick leave.  This is a bold initiative that is paralleling this fairly common fringe benefit offered by many private employers, but which construction contractors were perhaps less ready to implement for their employees.

Sick person and paid sick leave
Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on March 3, 2016.  The agency believes that more than 437,000 employees of contractors do not receive this benefit and this proposal provides a way by which workers will not have to choose between their health and their paycheck, according to the Secretary of Labor.

At the time the Executive Order was signed, there was a fear that this would lead to a federal law regarding paid sick leave legislation.  The proposal would allow employees to utilize the paid sick leave not only for their own illnesses and conditions, but also to care for sick children, parents, spouses or partners.  Another usage would be for circumstances related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The rule would apply to, among other things, Davis-Bacon Act projects and work under the Service Contract Act.  The rule would apply to new contracts (and extensions of expiring contracts) that result from solicitations issued on or after Jan. 1, 2017, or that are awarded outside the solicitation process as of Jan. 1, 2017.

There are specific requirements for how employers treat accrued but unused paid sick leave.

Contractors have to allow employees to carry over any unused leave into the next year.  It also requires contractors to reinstate employees’ accrued, unused paid sick leave upon rehiring by the same contractor or successor entity within 12 months after job separation.  However, contractors will not have to pay out unused paid sick leave to employees at separation.

The Takeaway

Many foreign countries, like Canada, have all kinds of fringe benefit items statutorily set and there is little, if any, room for dispute because the statute spells everything out.  So maybe a federal, uniform law/procedure for some fringe benefits might establish reasonable overall standards. Then, employers would not have to consider/agonize about whether or not go provide such benefits.

I believe there are very, very few employment-related lawsuits in Canada.  Maybe they’re on to something.