DOL Issues Final Rules on President Obama’s Executive Order Granting Paid Sick Days to Federal Contractors

The final rule, coupled with the success of state and local policies advocated for by Main Street businesses, should encourage Congress to pass broad federal legislation.

In an address delivered on Labor Day, 2015 President Obama said his Executive Order granting paid sick days to federal contractors would “increase efficiency and cost savings in work performed by parties that contract with the government.” Cost savings and increased efficiency are among the reasons Main Street small business owners support paid sick days legislation at the local and federal level in addition to protecting fellow employees and customers from communicable illnesses and matching the offerings of their larger competitors.

Main Street Alliance members have played active roles in paid sick days in crafting and passing paid sick days legislation across the country at the state and national level, most recently in passing a comprehensive earned sick and safe time policy in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Advisory Board members in the Twin Cities sat on task forces to explore the language, implementation, and efficacy of the policy and determined it was in the best interests of small businesses to implement a minimum standard for paid sick days.

“Not only is an earned paid sick days ordinance the right thing to do, but it makes business sense. The advantages we gain in the areas of employee acquisition, retention, and productivity will help us do our jobs better, and will make St. Paul, and our country a better place to do business,” said Shannon Forney, the owner of Workhorse Coffee in St. Paul, MN

Joining cities like Seattle, Portland, Burlington, Jersey City, and Minneapolis, the Federal government will now serve as an example to private sector business owners and big business lobbyists who fail to see the benefits of a policy that levels the playing field for all businesses and employees while mitigating costs through increased productivity. As well, such programs reduce a phenomenon known as “presenteeism,” where an employee is present at work but due to illness is not performing well and at greater risk of making a costly mistake or becoming injured in the workplace.

The final rules and subsequent implementation of President Obama’s order will provide yet another example for Congress to consider when taking action on pending legislation aimed at reducing barriers to paid sick leave access and making such policies accessible to small business owners who can’t afford to offer the benefit to their employees while remaining competitive with low-road competitors without a policy on the books.

“We thank and applaud President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez for this important step in providing working families a choice beyond caring for their families or making a living,” said Beth Sachs, the Founder of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and a member of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “As a federal contractor and a mission-driven organization that seeks to promote a healthy planet with thriving people, VEIC supports this action through our existing policies. We recognize that our employees are our most valuable asset and that their ability to care for their families is paramount not just to them, but to society as a whole.”

Main Street Alliance and our member businesses applaud the President for putting a policy in place for federal contractors and the DOL for issuing strong rules on implementation and compliance. We urge Congress to heed the call of small business owners and our employees and move forward with a universal standard for paid sick days, like the Healthy Families Act, which applies to all businesses regardless of size or location.

“As a CEO and mother, I believe that we need to change norms in corporate America to enable working parents to succeed, both in the workplace and at home. This begins with paid sick days. When parents get the time they need to help a child get well they come back to work as more loyal and productive employees,” said Sabrina Parsons, CEO Palo Alto Software, Eugene, Oregon.

“In a civilized society workers should not be penalized for taking time off from their jobs to care for themselves and their families. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days ensures the health and welfare of our workforce and instills loyalty and a sense of personal well-being that will translate to a stronger bottom line for business. The Healthy Families Act makes sense for employers and employees,” said Melinda Moulton, CEO Main Street Landing, Burlington, Vermont.

"When you stop being scared and do the math, paid sick days become more attainable to small businesses. This is especially true for the Healthy Families Act, which would make paid sick days the standard nationwide and level the playing field between businesses that allow their workers to earn paid time off and those that don't,” said Molly Moon Neitzel, Owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, Seattle, Washington.

Read the DOL's final rules HERE.