Obama gives federal workers paid sick leave — should private employers care?

pregnancy discrimination

President Obama recently signed a memo directing agencies like the Department of Labor (DOL) to grant federal employees a minimum of six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth of a child — and he’s urging Congress to pass legislation to give all workers paid sick leave. So what should HR take from this recent paid leave push?  
The President’s memo not only allows federal workers six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth of a new child (or other medical reasons) — even if they haven’t accrued that time yet, it also includes a proposal for Congress to approve $2 billion to be used to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave.
During the announcement, the president also asked for legislation to provide federal workers with another six weeks (in addition to the initial six weeks) of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

Revisiting ‘The Healthy Families Act’

But the president’s focus wasn’t solely on federal workers.
The White House estimates that 43 million private-sector workers don’t enjoy any paid sick leave. So President Obama also took the opportunity to spur a change and urged Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act.
As HR Benefits Alert reported previously, the act would require employers to provide workers with not less than one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum benefit of 56 hours of paid sick time per calendar year.
Employees would be allowed to start accruing paid sick time on their first day of employment, but they wouldn’t be eligible start using it until their 60th day of employment.
The administration of the law — and the reasons for which employees could use their paid sick time — would closely mirror the FMLA.

3 states, 16 cities

While the president’s directives may very well stall in Congress, the issue of mandatory paid sick leave is something that is still likely to impact HR in a number of ways.
That’s because a number of states and local governments have taken it upon themselves to pass sick leave laws.
As of right now, three states (Massachusetts, California and Connecticut) as well as 16 cities offer some form of paid sick leave. So keeping track of state and city paid leave laws is absolutely critical for HR pros.