President Obama’s Administration drafted an executive order to expand paid sick leave for all federal contractors and their subcontractors last week.
The order would also allow for federally contracted employees to take up to seven days of time off per year in paid sick days or to care for sick relatives, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers.
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.
The sick day proposal is modeled on a bill called The Healthy Families Act, championed by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The move also would allow new parents up to six weeks of paid parental leave. Currently, the United States remains the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave.
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.
“No worker should have to sacrifice a day’s pay, or their job altogether, just to take care of themselves or their sick child,” said Senator Murray.
Advocates are applauding this move by the Obama Administration in the hopes that it will extend well beyond federally contracted employees.
“The federal government should lead by example,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values at Work. “Such a move is precisely its role: to create model standards for the rest of the country to follow and to make sure taxpayer dollars are used wisely.”
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 1/15/15; NY Times 8/5/15; RH Reality Check 8/6/15;