President Barack Obama announced on Labor Day a new policy that forces companies that work with and for the federal government to provide additional paid sick leave time for their employees.
The Sept. 7 announcement is another step by the Obama administration to increase benefits of employees that work for businesses contracted with the federal government. Prior to the latest updates, similar orders included higher paychecks for federal employees, increased compensation for overtime work and banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, CNN noted.
During his speech in Boston, Obama blamed Congress for not acting on the matter sooner.
“Right now, about 40% of private-sector workers – 44 million people in America – don’t have access to paid sick leave,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, only Congress has the power to give this security to all Americans, but where I can act, I will.”
The President’s comments were specifically aimed at congressional Republicans, who lead with majorities in both chambers.
“In their world, the only way to help the country grow and help people get ahead is to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires and loosen up rules on big banks and polluters, and then you just wait, and then you look up at the sky and prosperity will come raining down on us,” Obama said. “That’s not how the economy works.”
Republicans typically dislike Obama’s use of executive orders to create large changes in the nation’s economic and immigration policies. However, the White House says that the increased benefits will lead to higher productivity in the workplace and push other companies to adapt to these new regulations without government telling them to do so.
The latest order will force companies contracted through the federal government to let workers accumulate up to seven days of paid sick leave each year, the Los Angeles Times noted. Set to begin in 2017, the White House estimates that nearly 300,000 workers will benefit from the changes.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez approved of the decision and said that America needs to modernize its workplace rules to fall more in line with other nations around the globe.
“Other countries have done it, and they see the benefit,” Perez said.