Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’S Carmel Martin on Executive Order Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’S Carmel Martin on Executive Order Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Labor released a final rule requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to workers who work on certain federal contracts. The final rule follows an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in September 2015, and will enable qualifying workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year.

Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:

By ensuring that workers who work on federal contracts have access to paid sick leave, the Obama administration has once again demonstrated its commitment to advancing workplace policies that address the needs of today’s workforce. At some point in their careers, nearly all workers will need time away from work to seek medical care, to recover from their own illness, or to care for a sick relative or spouse. The final rule issued by the Department of Labor will protect qualifying workers from having to choose between their own health or their families’ health and their financial well-being. This challenge is most acutely felt by those struggling to make ends meets. In fact, an analysis by the Center for American Progress found that only 15 percent of low-income workers have access to any paid sick days, compared to nearly 80 percent of the highest earners.

Even with this rule in place, millions of workers throughout the United States still lack access to a single paid sick day. Although a handful of states now require paid sick leave benefits for eligible employees, workers shouldn’t have to depend on living in the right ZIP code or working for a certain employer to have access to these benefits. It’s well past time that Congress act to create a national standard that responds to the needs of all working families, including paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave.

According to the White House, the rule will give additional paid sick leave to 1.15 million people. Importantly, this rule also allows these same workers to use paid sick time to cover absences related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

About 40 million U.S. employees, or 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days.

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For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at or 202.478.5328.