DOL Looks to Move the Needle on Paid Sick Leave

By Jon Hyman

Mar. 1, 2016

Last week, the Department of Labor announced proposed regulations that would expand paid sick leave to the employees of federal contractor and subcontractors. These regulations would implement Executive Order 13706, which President Obama announced last year. According to the DOL, these regulations will provide paid sick leave to 828,000 employees.

Given that our country has over 121 million employees, why does it matter than a scant 0.68% of the American workforce has access to federally mandated paid sick leave?

It matters because it moves the needle, even if ever so incrementally. Other companies will begin voluntarily offering paid sick leave as a fringe benefit, if they want to compete in the job market against those offering federally mandated paid leave. As a result, paid sick leave, will starting small through this mandate, eventually will spread to all employers nationwide.

While I am not a fan of government mandates, there is no doubt that, as a country, we are woefully behind the rest of the world on paid time off for employees. These regulations illustrate what can happen when the private sector delays making necessary changes. Because our nation’s businesses are so out of touch on the issue of paid leave, the government has to step in. If you want to stop this tide of government regulation, do the right thing by your workers. It really is just that simple.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at

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