Paid Sick Leave Information
Covered federal contractors must provide their employees a minimum of 56 hours of paid sick leave per year, pursuant to a final rule recently issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
When does the rule go into effect?
The Final Rule will apply to contracts solicited by the federal government and/or awarded outside of the solicitation process on or after January 1, 2017. It also applies to certain existing contracts that are renewed or extended after January 1, 2017. The Rule will go into effect once the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council issues accompanying regulations.
What type of contracts are covered?
Under the Final Rule, Executive Order 13706 applies to four major categories of contracts:
- Procurement contracts for construction covered by the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA)
- Service contracts covered by the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act (SCA)
- Concessions contracts, including any concessions contracts excluded from the SCA by the Department of Labor's regulations at 29 CFR 4.133(b)
- Contracts in connection with federal property or lands, and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public
Narrow exclusions include grants, contracts and agreements with Native American tribes, and certain procurement contracts for construction.
Who is covered?
The Rule covers employees who perform work within the United States on or in connection with a covered contract, including FLSA-exempt employees and most independent contractors. Employees whose work with covered contracts comprises less than 20 percent of their total work hours in a given workweek, or whose covered work is governed by a collective bargaining agreement that already provides for at least 56 hours of paid sick time, are excluded.
When can an employee use leave under the Rule?
- The leave can be used for an employee's own physical or mental illness or that of a family member, including preventative health care visits. It may also be used if an employee or their family member is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; both to seek medical care and to pursue legal action or seek relocation services.
- Accrued sick leave will carry over from year to year, although employers are not obligated to pay out unused accrued leave when an employee leaves his or her job. Employees can use as little as an hour of leave at a time, and employers can only request medical certification of the need for leave when an employee uses three or more consecutive sick days.
- Leave requests can be made orally. The request must be made at least seven calendar days in advance when foreseeable, and in other cases, as soon as is practical. Employers must explain any denial of a request to an employee in writing. Denial cannot be based on the employee's failure to find a replacement worker.
- Employers may only require doctor certification for employee absences of three or more consecutive workdays, and only if the employee is informed of the requirement before returning to work.
Sick Leave Enforcement
The rule will be enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which has the authority to investigate potential violations. Violations include interfering with an employee's use of paid sick leave and discriminating or retaliating against an employee for exercising their right to the leave. Proven violations may result in suspension from federal contracting for up to three years and possible debarment. Federal contractors should assess whether the sick leave requirements apply to them and whether any existing PTO policies need to be altered to meet their new obligation.
Questions about California's Paid Leave Laws?
If you are living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, or San Diego and you have questions about paid leave laws, contact California attorneys Kingsley & Kingsley to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.