Certain federal contractors must provide paid sick leave to employees

More than a year after President Obama signed an executive order requiring certain federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees, the U.S. Department of Labor issued its final rules detailing how the order is to be implemented. Labor and employment attorney Paul Ross was interviewed by The Oklahoman about the scope and nature of the new rules, the potential penalties for noncompliance, and his concerns about its implementation.

According to Ross, the new rules apply to employers that enter into one of three types of government contracts on or after January 1, 2017 — specifically, contracts covered by the Davis-Bacon Act or Service Contract Act, concessions contracts with the federal government, and service contracts in connection with federal property or lands. Affected federal contractors must allow their employees to accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for 30 hours worked. Those who violate this rule, including those who interfere with an employee’s right to take accrued leave for purposes allowed under the order, may be subject to possible suspension from federal contracting for up to three years, as well as possible debarment.

Ross also expressed his concerns about the rules, which he said are both lengthy and complicated.

“The complexity of this new rule, combined with its broad application in a number of areas, leaves open the possibility for employee abuse, so that’s always a reason for concern and special attention,” said Ross. “In addition, the rule will undoubtedly create complications for employers that have employees who work on both federal and non-federal work assignments, as well as employees who work in a general administrative support capacity as opposed to employees who work directly on the federal contracts.”