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Compliance becomes murky with new sick leave order

On Labor Day, the White House passed an executive order that mandates sick leave for employees of federal contractors. This order, however, has some features that are causing concern for employment lawyers, who are concerned about employment contract enforcement.

The new order extends paid sick leave to about 300,000 employees who are not currently eligible for these benefits, and will increase available sick leave for many more. It also allows workers to use this leave not only to care for themselves, but for family members who are ill and allows for its use for domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault situations. 

In addition, the order requires sick leave to be carried over from year to year. Currently many employers don’t permit carry-over of leave, or have a completely different system for accruing sick time. In addition, the rules regarding the demand for a doctor’s excuse may widely vary from current policies of many employers.

Experts have pointed out that in many states and local jurisdictions mandatory sick leave statutes already exist which may contradict the new federal requirements. This is the case in many areas of New Jersey.

There are as yet no regulations that interpret the order or exercise employment contract enforcement, which does not provide a course of action for companies that fail to comply. This means that there are no solid means by which to resolve disputes or even enforce the new requirements, but many experts believe that fines are the most likely penalty for non-compliance.

Employees who do feel their rights under sick leave law have been violated may benefit from seeking the services of a qualified employment law attorney.

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