On Labor Day, President Barack Obama announced that he will sign an executive order on Sept. 14 that forces companies with government contracts to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The order will affect thousands of workers in California and across the nation. Low-wage workers are expected to benefit the most.
Obama recently issued similar executive orders requiring federal contractors to expand overtime compensation, raise the minimum wage and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. He has pushed Congress to extend the new orders to the entire private sector, but Republicans have resisted, which severely limits the impact of the rules. For example, the president’s paid sick leave order impacts 300,000 workers, but Congress has the power to extend sick leave to the estimated 44 million workers who are currently without it. Republicans claim private companies cannot afford to extend sick leave. However, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said that the U.S. is the only country where guaranteed sick leave is a partisan issue.
The new rules, including the paid sick leave order, will apply to all companies with government contracts beginning in 2017. The White House said it has not calculated exactly how much the new rules will cost businesses, but it claimed higher worker retention rates will offset the expenditures.
California workers who have been denied rightful benefits or subjected to discrimination may benefit by speaking with an attorney. After reviewing the case, legal counsel may recommend taking legal action against an employer who is violating employee rights. A successful claim could provide compensation in the form of back pay, benefits and damages.