Executive Order Requires Federal Contractors to Give Employees Paid Sick Leave


Over the Labor Day weekend, in an effort to support workers, President Barack Obama, signed an executive order requiring paid sick leave for federal contracted employees. The White House expressed that 40% of the private-sector workforce do not have access to paid sick leave, meaning workers will now receive more sick days than they originally had before. This order will support 300,000 constituents. This newly enforced order could affect paid contracted student internships, hourly positions on campus, and much more.

“We’ve seen that many companies, including small businesses, support these policies, because they understand it’s helpful with recruitment and retention,” President Obama expressed “It helps you keep good employees.” at a Labor Day event in Boston, Massachusetts.

The New York Daily News reported that while attending a union rally in Boston, President Obama stated that under his executive order, employees working on federal contracts will now “gain the right to a minimum of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours they work. Stretched out over 12 months, that’s up to seven days per year. The order will allow employees to use the leave to care for sick relatives as well, and will affect contracts starting in 2017.” Ultimately, offering paid sick days will help to increase productivity by preventing the spread of illness and increasing employee morale in the workplace (source).

Although this is a federally enforced order, states are coming together in support of their labor force as well. As of July 1, 2015, our beloved Massachusetts has enacted, although very similar, a statewide sick leave policy, which states

“All employees are entitled to earn sick time. An employer must provide 1 hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked. An employee begins accruing sick time commencing the date of his hire (or July 1, 2015, whichever is later). Employees may not use earned sick time until the 90th calendar day from the date of hire. After the 90th day, employees may use earned sick time as it accrues.”

Jack Mozloom, Media Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, expressed that although President Obama had the authority to place conditions on contractors, not every business will be able to afford the new benefit. Mozloom further explains that “Mandatory paid leave is a great benefit for workers whose employers offer it,” however, “For workers whose employers can’t absorb the cost, it’s an arbitrary expense that will ultimately result in shorter hours, lower pay or disappearing jobs.” (Source)

It is no secret that President Obama is a strong proponent for the middle class. Colleen Nelson, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, shares that throughout his administration he has managed to, by way of executive action, “raise the minimum wage for employees under federal contracts, make it tougher for federal contractors who have violated labor laws to do business with the government, and protect gay and transgender workers from discrimination”.

“Unfortunately, only Congress has the power to give this security to all Americans,” President Obama said. “But where I can act, I will. And by the way, I just did.” If that’s not a great Labor Day treat, I don’t know what is!


Jada Cash-Wilson is a Project Coordinator/Graduate Intern in the Department of Government & ExternBlog Photoal Affairs and Community Impact and holds a BA in Political Philosophy. Before connecting with Wheelock, she worked as a Research Policy/Grant Analyst and liaison between the Mayor and City Council for a major city in the mid-west, and as a Legislative Aide for former U.S Senator Carl Levin. Jada aspires to someday make a positive difference in the world.