Paid Sick Leave May Be Required for Federal Contractors and Could Lead to a Private Employer Requirement

Yesterday, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a proposed rule requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  Congress and State legislatures around the country are also considering bills that would require employers who do not contract with the federal government to provide sick leave to their employees.  This article discusses DOL’s proposed rule and federal and state legislation that may require private employers to provide paid sick leave.

A.        Paid Sick Leave Proposal for Federal Contractors

On February 24, 2016 the DOL announced a proposed rule set to take effect January 1, 2017 that would require employers entering into new or renewed contracts with the government to provide up to seven (7) days of paid sick leave annually to their employees earned at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every thirty (30) hours of work.[1]  According to the DOL, nearly a half-million workers would begin earning paid sick leave the first year, with another 400,000 workers earning paid sick leave by 2022.[2]  The DOL published the proposed rule in the Federal Register on February 25, 2016, and is providing thirty (30) days for the public to comment.[3]  Employers interested in commenting on the proposed rule may do so by clicking on the following link or going to: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=WHD-2016-0001-0001. The DOL will then have until September 30, 2016 to issue the final rule.[4]

Comments should not be limited to just federal contractors because federal regulatory action is often the impetus for federal and state congressional action,[5] and the United States Congress and several state legislatures are considering requiring private sector employers to provide paid sick leave.

B.        The Push for Private Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave

Similar to the federal regulation, on February 12, 2016, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLaura (D-Conn.) introduced the Healthy Families Act that would require private employers with fifteen (15) or more employees to provide up to seven (7) days of paid sick leave per year.[6]  While the Healthy Families Act is not expected to pass Congress,[7] several state and local governments have introduced similar legislation requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave. 

Although Colorado private employers may be protected from providing paid sick leave in the near future, other states already have paid sick leave laws for private employers on the books.  On February 1, 2016, Colorado Senate Bill 114 was introduced and would have required all private employers to provide up to nine (9) days of sick leave per year.[8]  However, on February 22, 2016, the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee indefinitely postponed discussion of Senate Bill 114, effectively killing the legislation.  Vermont recently became the fifth state to require employers to provide paid sick days.  Vermont requires covered employers to provide three (3) paid sick days for qualified employees in 2017 and 2018, and five (5) paid sick days thereafter.[9]  California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon have also enacted paid sick leave legislation.  At the local level, twenty-four (24) municipalities have also enacted paid sick leave laws.[10]

Given the likely impact of potential legislation requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave, we encourage both government contract employers and private employers that do not contract with the government to provide comment to the proposed paid sick leave rule.  Campbell Litigation will continue to monitor the proposed rule throughout the year.

 

[1] Ben Penn, DOL Proposes Paid Sick Leave Mandate for Contractors, BNA Daily Labor Report (Feb. 24, 2016).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.  Typically, the comment period is sixty (60) days.

[4] Id.

[5] See, e.g., Exec. Order No. 8802, 6 C.F.R. 3109 (1941) (prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry, and ultimately leading to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq); Exec. Order No. 13087, 63 Fed. Reg. 30,097 (1998) (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and ultimately leading to several states passing similar legislation). 

[6] Healthy Families Act, H.R. 932, 114th Cong. (2016).

[7] Penn, supra note 1.

[8] Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, S. 16-114, 2016 Leg., 70th Sess. (Colo. 2016).  Employers with fewer than ten (10) employees would only be required to provide up to five (5) days of paid sick leave per year. 

[9] Adrianne Appel, Vermont Paid Sick Leave Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk, BNA Daily Labor Report (Feb. 18, 2016).  California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon have also enacted paid sick leave legislation.

[10] Id.  New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, and Oakland are just a few of the major cities to enact such laws.  Other major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle are also considering enacting similar legislation.  

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