Obama to Give 300,000 Workers Paid Sick Leave With New Executive Order

President again goes around Congress to advance his agenda.

September 7, 2015, 12:01 AM

— -- President Obama will sign an executive order Monday giving hundreds of thousands of workers employed by federal contractors access to paid sick leave.

The order will require federal contractors to give employees the ability to earn at least seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave annually. It will give about 300,000 workers new access to paid sick leave, and an additional number of workers the ability to earn more sick leave than they had before.

Workers will earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work. The policy, which will begin with new federal contracts in 2017, will allow workers to use paid sick leave to take care of themselves, family members and loved ones, and also apply to absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The order is the latest from the White House aimed at pushing Obama's workplace agenda around a Republican-led Congress. Earlier this summer, Obama unveiled a proposed rule to expand overtime pay eligibility, boosting the wages of millions of Americans. Last year, he raised the minimum wage for federally contracted workers to $10.10.

Workers' rights advocates praised Obama's actions, saying it would encourage private companies to institute similar leave policies.

"Such a move is precisely the government’s role: to create model standards for the rest of the country to follow," Ellen Bravo, the executive director of Family Values at Work, wrote in a statement.

Critics argue that many of Obama's workplace executive orders raise costs for federal contractors and subcontractors.

Administration officials said the latest action would help lower costs associated with worker attrition rates and workplace illness, and make companies contracting with the federal government more attractive to potential employees.

The president will discuss the new policy and other administration initiatives Monday in a Labor Day speech in Boston. He will also call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, a proposal authored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, that would require all businesses with 15 or more employees to offer up to seven paid sick days each year.

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