By Jerilyn Jacobs
Last week, the Department of Labor published a Final Rule regarding implementation of Executive Order 13706, which requires certain federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The Final Rule applies to contracts where the solicitation was issued or the contract was awarded on or after January 1, 2017.
Under the Final Rule, applicable federal contractors will be required to provide employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on or in connection with a covered federal contract, up to 56 hours. Employees may use paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- To care for the employee’s own illness and other health care needs, including preventative health care;
- To care for a family member who is ill or needs health care, including preventative health care (the Final Rule takes an expansive view of the types of family relationships that are covered, extending beyond individuals with biological or legal ties to the employee); and
- For purposes related to being the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or assisting a family member or loved one who is such a victim.
The four major types of federal contracts that fall under the Final Rule are 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), and contracts in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public.
The Executive Order and Final Rule do not apply to contracts for the manufacturing or furnishing of materials, supplies, articles, or equipment to the federal government that are subject to the Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act (PCA). However, where a PCA-covered contract involves a substantial and segregable amount of construction work that is subject to the DBA, employees whose wages are governed by the DBA or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including those who qualify for an exemption from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions, are covered for the hours spent performing work on or in connection with such DBA-covered construction work.
As to employees working on contracts covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), if the CBA already provided the employee with at least 56 hours of paid sick time per year, then the other requirements of the Executive Order and the Final Rule do not apply to the employee until the date the CBA terminates or January 1, 2020, whichever is first. If the CBA provides less than 56 hours or seven days, in cases where the CBA refers to days rather than hours, the contractor must provide covered employees with the difference between the amount provided under the CBA and 56 hours in a manner consistent with the Executive Order and Final Rule or the terms and conditions of the CBA.
The Final Rule also provides that employees can carry over up to 56 hours of unused paid sick leave from year to year while they work for the same contractor on covered contracts. Further, contractors are required to reinstate employees’ accrued, unused sick leave if the employee returns to work within 12 months after a job separation, unless the employee was paid for unused sick leave upon separation.
Employees can use as little as an hour of paid sick leave at a time. An employee’s request to use paid sick leave may be made orally or in writing. Advance notice can be required where the need for leave is foreseeable, and a contractor can require supporting documentation if the employee is absent three or more consecutive full days.
For further reference, the Final Rule may be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/30/2016-22964/establishing-paid-sick-leave-for-federal-contractors