Federal contractors must provide paid sick leave

Starting next January, companies that have federal contracts must allow employees to earn up to seven paid sick days per year, under new regulations issued by the Labor Department.

Employees can earn one sick day for each 30 hours spent on work related to the federal contract, up to seven days per year. These days carry over from one year to the next, although an employee who quits or is fired without using them doesn’t have to be compensated for them.

Sick leave can be taken for an employee’s own illness, or to take care of a sick family member. It can also be used to deal with domestic violence or stalking.

Companies cannot discriminate against a worker who takes sick leave, and cannot make sick leave dependent on the employee’s finding a replacement worker. Also, companies cannot demand a doctor’s note unless the leave lasts three or more consecutive days.

There are extensive recordkeeping requirements for employers, including a requirement that workers be told at least once a month how many sick-leave days they have available.

Interestingly, an employer doesn’t have to agree to a sick-leave request for a given day if the employee isn’t scheduled to do any work that day that pertains to the federal contract. However, a company may not manipulate an employee’s schedule to take advantage of this loophole, and there are significant penalties for doing so.