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Executive Office of the President

Obama Orders Paid Leave for Contractors

Daniel Hinton's picture
Sep 08, 2015

For the first time in U.S. history, men and women working under federal contracts will be guaranteed seven days of paid sick leave per year. President Obama issued the executive order, which will effect about 300,000 contractors, right before he addressed the Greater Boston Labor Council at their Labor Day breakfast on Monday morning.

Pres. Obama also called on Congress to do what he can't on his own, that is, pass a law requiring large businesses with over 15 employees to guarantee seven days of paid sick leave. 

Citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent numbers, the president said 40 percent of private-sector workers in this country aren't offered any amount of paid sick days by their employers. A report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that, out of 22 wealthy developed nations, the U.S. government is the only one that "fails to guarantee workers some form of paid sick leave."

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said, "Other countries have done it, and they see the benefit."

Paid leave has long been a priority of the labor movement, especially for working families and workers with chronic conditions.

The executive order follows a wave of overwhelming public support, as well as state and city governments passing their own paid leave legislation. New York City, for example, enacted paid sick leave for workers in April 2014.

Pres. Obama has made his move. Now it's Congress' turn. Don't hold your breath.

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