Obama is ordering US federal contractors to give their employees paid sick leave

“It’s the right thing to do,” Obama said in January.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Obama said in January.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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From 2017 on, any company that does business with the federal government must offer its employees up to seven days of paid sick leave annually, according to an executive order that US president Barack Obama will sign today.

This is the latest in a series of actions the Obama administration has taken to change rules and expectations in the American workplace, and one the president hinted at during his State of the Union address in January: “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” he told his fellow lawmakers. “It’s the right thing to do.”

No such bill ever made its way to Obama’s desk, let alone a congressional hearing, according to the New York Times. But as the president proved during the immigration debate and in the fight against cybercrime, it doesn’t necessarily take legislation to effect policy change.

The new executive order won’t benefit every worker in America, obviously; it directly affects only the approximately 300,000 people currently working on government contracts. But proponents and critics alike expect it to have a broader influence on the US workforce. And according to Reuters, Obama is still pushing for Congress to pass legislation requiring all businesses with 15 or more employees to follow suit.