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Obama drafts new order on sick leave

Mandate affects all contractors

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has drafted an executive order forcing any company that contracts with the federal government to issue paid leave to employees who are sick, are seeking medical attention, or need to care for a sick relative.

The draft order, obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday, would affect potentially hundreds of thousands of workers, since it is aimed at contractors and subcontractors. It would be the latest in a string of executive orders imposing requirements on companies doing business with the government that the president and Democrats would like to see applied nationally.

The confidential draft, marked “pre-decisional and deliberative,” covers — for a minimum of 56 hours a year, or about seven days — not just an employee’s illness but also caring for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, “or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

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It would apply to absences from work resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if that time was used to seek medical attention, obtain counseling, seek relocation assistance from victim services organizations, or prepare civil or criminal proceedings.

Employers would also be required to allow unused paid leave to accrue, year after year.

The draft order states that an employer could not make paid leave contingent on a worker finding a replacement to fill in for them. The implementation of the order would have no impact on requirements that federal contractors pay the “prevailing wage” of the area where the work is done.