Labor Rights Politics

Obama Issues Executive Order for Paid Sick Leave

The Obama Administration stayed busy this holiday weekend, revealing yesterday a series of actions that will expand paid sick leave for hundreds of thousands of Americans by 2017.

via  JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
via JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama issued an executive order yesterday ensuring that all federally contracted workers- some 300,000- are able to earn up to seven days of paid sick time for illness, preventative care, or to care for sick relatives. The order would also allow for federally contracted employees to take a paid week off per year to care for sick relatives.

During his State of the Union address this year, President Obama demonstrated his commitment to working families and placed a historic emphasis on improving the lives the American working class:

“We are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. . . . And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home,” the President said.

President Obama also noted this weekend that the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, would be one strong option for American families. The FAMILY Act would also provide up to 12 weeks of much-needed paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as paid leave for prolonged illness or to care for a family member with a long-term illness.

“Today, President Obama took concrete and very welcome steps to make our nation more family friendly,” Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, wrote in a press release. “We applaud his executive order requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to allow all employees who work on federal contracts to earn paid sick time, and his powerful message urging Congress to – at long last – create the national family and medical leave program this country needs,” Ness continued.

In January President Obama announced his intention to move in such a direction, promising to sign a memorandum “directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child,” and to grant up to seven paid sick days to federal workers. The President encouraged state and local governments to do the same. Then, earlier this summer President Obama drafted an executive order to expand sick leave for all federal contractors and their subcontractors.

Paid parental and sick leave has a direct impact on working women and families. Often times for single parents or families with two working parents, having a sick child means taking unpaid time off or the risk of getting fired for staying home with the child.

Media Resources: White House Press Release 9/7/15; National Partnership for Women & Families Press Release 9/7/15; Feminist Newswire 1/15/15; 1/21/15; 8/12/15;

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