By David Knowles, Bloomberg News (TNS)
President Barack Obama signed his latest executive order on Labor Day, which extends the number of paid sick leave days mandated for federal contractors.
“Right now you have parents who have to choose between losing income or staying home with a sick child,” Obama said Monday in a speech at the annual Greater Boston Labor Council breakfast, an event sponsored by the AFL-CIO.
The executive order means that federal contractors will now earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, with a cap at seven days of paid time off per year, the administration said. In total, the new regulations will extend paid sick leave to 300,000 federal contractors who currently do not have such benefits.
“Every day, the president sees the pressing need for policies to support working families,” senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told reporters on a Sunday conference call. “There are letters that come his way from hard-working Americans, who live everyday with the anxiety that comes from being one ailment or one injury away from losing a job, losing their livelihood and ability to look after their families.”
Obama also called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would require private-sector employers with more than 15 employees to extend paid sick leave benefits.
“It builds on the growing momentum of people who are answering the call,” Obama said during his speech.
Neither the president nor officials in his administration have specified the price tag of extending paid sick leave, but the order itself portrays the regulations in terms of cost savings.
“This order seeks to increase efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by parties that contract with the Federal Government by ensuring that employees on those contracts can earn up to 7 days or more of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care,” the executive order states. “Providing access to paid sick leave will improve the health and performance of employees of Federal contractors and bring benefits packages at Federal contractors in line with model employers, ensuring that they remain competitive employers in the search for dedicated and talented employees.”
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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast in Boston, Massachusetts September 7, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque