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Feds expand paid sick leave to contractors

Feds expand paid sick leave to contractors
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The Obama administration on Thursday finalized a rule that will expand paid sick leave to 1.15 million people working on federal contracts.

The Department of Labor rule is a byproduct from an executive order President Obama signed in September 2015. The order allows workers on a covered federal contract to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for up to 56 hours of paid leave per year.

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Under the rule, workers can use that time off for their own illness, preventative care or to care for a family member or loved one. 

The direct cost for employers increased slightly from the rule proposed in February, from $18.4 million to $27.3 million per year for the first 10 years.

In a call with reporters, Labor Secretary Tom Perez said the cost went up because the agency found in its analysis that the rule would impact more workers. The agency originally thought only about 828,200 employees would receive additional paid sick leave within the first five years.

“As we looked at the lay of the land, we saw there is a larger universe of workers, some of whom have sick leave benefits now, but are less than 60 hours,” he said.

“That’s what notice and comment is all about and I’m proud of the fact we’re are up to 1.15 million workers directly impacted.”

In addition to the final labor rule, which Perez announced Thursday with representatives from the White House, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a final rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to report pay data. 

The EEOC said businesses have long used the EEO-1 form to report demographic information on their workforces. The final rule revises that form to require information on the range of compensation paid to employees of different demographic groups. 

The commission plans to use the information to identify discriminatory pay practices.

To give employers more time to comply with the new reporting rules, the EEOC extended the deadline from the initial proposal by six months, giving employers until March 31, 2018 to submit pay data for 2017. The revision does not impact the 2016 EEO-1 report, which is due on September 30. 

—This report was updated at 10:51 a.m.