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Paid sick leave for federal contractors: Small Business Administration asks DOL to look at alternatives

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Photo: Small Business Administration

Washington – The Department of Labor should consider alternatives to its proposal that would require federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their workers, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy wrote in an April 6 letter.

The proposal, published Feb. 25, could be overly costly for small businesses, SBA stated. According to feedback the agency has received, the rule could cost some small businesses as much as $70,000 a year in compliance costs – far greater than DOL’s estimate of $472. Many small businesses already have voiced similar concerns in comments submitted on the rule.

SBA also questioned whether DOL adequately estimated the number of small businesses that could be affected by the rule. Thousands of small businesses that operate on federal property were not included in DOL’s estimate of affected employers.

SBA asked DOL to minimize the negative impacts of the rule on small businesses by considering stakeholder-submitted alternatives, such as exempting certain part-time or seasonal work. The agency also asked DOL to clarify which types of small businesses and workers would be covered under the rule.

The rule, which was prompted by an Executive Order, would require some employers with federal government contracts to allow their workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave every year. If promulgated, about 300,000 federal contract workers could, for the first time, gain access to paid sick leave.

Guaranteeing paid sick leave is a growing trend among some states and municipalities. Supporters claim that paid leave improves worker health and performance. At press time, five states and dozens of local municipalities require employers to provide some paid sick leave to workers. Federal legislation expanding paid sick time to most workers has been introduced in the House and Senate, but is unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Congress.

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