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U.S. government requires sick leave for contractors

Businesses that have contracts with the federal government not only have to comply with laws applicable to all enterprises, they also with specific standards imposed by the government. In early September of this year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order containing another standard which may impact business planning for employers seeking federal government contracts.

Contractors involved with government procurement must allow workers to have at least seven days or more of paid sick leave each year. Paid sick leave may be established for a worker's physical or mental illnesses and obtaining treatment from a health care provider. It also applies to workers caring for close family members, such as children, spouses and domestic partners. Furthermore, the executive order mandates this leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking for medical treatment, counseling, seeking relocation or for preparing or participating in related criminal or civil legal actions.

Workers may request this leave orally or in writing. Paid sick leave may carry over into the next year and has to be reinstated if an employee is rehired within 12 months of being separated from the job. Sick leave requests are not contingent upon finding a replacement to perform duties. States may also impose more stringent requirements for their employers.

Minnesota law does not mandate paid sick leave. Like current federal law governing all workers, the state requires employers to provide leave for their own illnesses or to care for a sick family member. Minnesota also requires leave for a sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking victim.

Minnesota employers must pay for these absences if they normally provides paid sick leave. However, the worker has to be employed at the business for at least 12 months and at least 21 workers are employed at each site. Employers may restrict sick leave for treatment of a family member to 160 hours if it provides more than 160 hours of this leave for a 12-month period.

Source: The White House, "Executive order-establishes paid sick leave for federal contractors," Accessed Oct. 19, 2015

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