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President Obama gives federal contract workers paid sick leave

New York employees may have heard about President Obama's recent executive order that he signed on Labor Day. The order provides that federal contractors must give their workers paid sick time off from their jobs. Currently, 300,000 such workers do not have paid sick leave.

Workers will be given one paid sick hour for every 30 hours worked, which adds up to about seven days of sick leave per year. Under the order, federal workers will also be able to use their sick leave to take care of ill family members. Affected contracts will be those that begin in 2017.

According to the White House, around 44 million private sector workers do not receive paid sick leave from their jobs. That equates to 40 percent of the U.S. workforce. Some Republican members of Congress have said that the country cannot afford to offer paid sick days to federal contractors. Because of their resistance, President Obama chose to use the executive order to implement it. Paid sick leave is a widely established right in many European countries.

While many U.S. workers do not enjoy paid sick time off from work, those who are employed in companies with 50 or more employees may be eligible to take unpaid time off for health reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The federal act provides that people who have been employed for at least one year and who have worked a certain number of hours can take off up to 12 weeks to care for themselves or for sick family members. Employers are not allowed to retaliate against workers for taking time off under the act. In the event an employer does retaliate, the worker may want to seek help from an employment law attorney.

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