Sick, Maternity Leave Pay Law Forces Federal Contractors To Compensate Employees: Could We See Other Companies Following Suit?

Sick leave, maternity leave, and other health-related reasons we end up taking the day off are now being updated for Federal contractors. Sick pay will now be required, a concept which a lot of U.S. workers are applauding as a needed change to the work environment.

The times are changing, but employment policies have remained stagnant for decades. The average U.S. employee could earn enough money with a full-time job to support themselves and their family in the 1940s, but with cost of living increases constantly fighting the bottom line, this ideal has since vanished. Now, even married couples often need two jobs each to avoid the need for food stamps, and then they have to hire a babysitter if they want a family at all.

The Obama Administration has now made it a law that Federal contractors, among the highest-paid of all in the United States, will receive sick leave pay. Of course this may require a note from a certified physician, but with the Affordable Care Act now making medical insurance mandatory, a hospital visit might actually be covered as well.

According to the New York Times, the new law will grant seven days a year, or one hour for every 30, for employees to call in sick. Notice the word “contractor,” however, and you might see a loophole in this law which employers could use to get around it. If someone on contract is hired part-time, they might not be covered when they get sick. Also, many states use prisoner rehabilitation for cheap labor, giving convicts the chance to work off their prison time and get something productive done. It might not apply to them either.

President Barack Obama‘s new sick leave rule for Federal contractors might be the first step of a positive sweeping change in the U.S. work place. According to The Washington Post, Obama says it’s all based on the fact that if an employee gets sick, nobody wants to catch what they have.

“Everybody gets sick. Coming to work sick is bad for employees, co-workers and customers alike. No one wants a colleague coming in and getting you sick. When people don’t have paid sick days, they might have to choose between taking care of themselves and putting food on the table. For Americans living paycheck to paycheck, a lost day of wages can be a huge loss. Or when a child gets sick and has to stay home, parents may have no choice but to care for them and lose a day’s pay as a result. That’s simply not a tradeoff the wealthiest nation on Earth should be asking working parents to make.”


If the contractor doesn’t use up their seven days of sick leave pay, it carries over into the next year, according to the new rule. Of course Congress has been stalling on a broader range version of this law, but if it proves to be enough of a positive change, they might move forward with it.

It’s simple: If an employee comes in to work sick, they take the chance of spreading the illness to everybody they work with. When everybody is getting sick, less gets done and the business suffers. Hopefully Congress will see positive results from the sick leave law and mandate it for all businesses.

We are a long way from a work situation which is ideal for business and family at the same time, since one often suffers for the other. If you’re a Federal contractor though, this is great news and sick leave is now a law.

[Feature image via angellodeco/]