Paid Sick Days for Contractor Employees

This rule ensures that employees of contractors can earn up to seven paid sick days each year on federal contract jobs.


The Paid Sick Days for Employees of Federal Contractors rule ensures that employees of certain contractors who work on federal contracts can earn up to seven paid sick days each year on their federal contract jobs. This time can be used by workers to recover from their own illness, provide care to a sick family member or access preventive care for themselves or a family member. Additionally, it allows workers to use paid sick days to seek services or other assistance related to domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault for themselves or a family member.

The rule went into effect on January 1, 2017 and applies to new federal contracts awarded after that date. It ensures 1.15 million people who work on federal contracts can earn paid sick time, including nearly 600,000 workers who could not earn a single paid sick day previously.

Paid sick days laws are or will soon be in place in seven states, the District of Columbia and 31 other jurisdictions. Evidence shows that these laws are working well with minimal, if any, impact on employers.

Furthermore, paid sick days can save employers, taxpayers and families money in addition to promoting healthier workplaces and communities. Paid sick days increase productivity, decrease turnover and limit the spread of illness through workplaces, schools and child care centers. Paid sick days also reduce government spending on publicly funded health insurance programs, and they safeguard families’ economic security.


Employees of federal contractors should not have to face the impossible choice between caring for their health or keeping their paycheck or job. Katy from Minnesota, a MomsRising member, faced that choice. As a mother of three children, she too often had to go to work sick or send her sick children to school or daycare because she had no paid sick days to care for herself or her children.

“In 2015, I left my job to become a federal contractor when I was six months pregnant with my third child. I saved all of my vacation time for when my child was born, which only amounted to five paid days off. Not long after I returned to work, I found out that my daughter needed extra doctor’s visits to address some health issues she was having, which required appointments each week. In addition, there was the variable of unpredictable illnesses and unforeseen school and daycare closures that quickly ate up any chance for saving my PTO, especially because I wasn’t able to earn any paid sick days. I was constantly stressed about if I could take a day off when one of my kids was sick and wouldn’t be able to go to daycare or school.

So what is needed to justify paid sick days? Does the stomach flu count? Because let me tell you…when I showed up to work only just finishing throwing up less than 8 hours prior and was still feverish…my coworkers did NOT appreciate that. They could not understand why I was coming to work.  But I had no paid sick days. I had just used the only PTO day I had on taking care of one of my three sick (throwing up) children. I cried as I had to send my oldest to school, knowing she wasn’t well ‘enough’ to go back. I knew that I was breaking the school rules and that she was a mess, but I couldn’t stay home with her another day. The other two probably shouldn’t have gone to daycare either, but what choice did I have? By daycare and school standards, it is very clear what is sick ‘enough’ to warrant staying home. But that doesn’t match up with what many workplaces say. Unfortunately, germs and illness don’t stay on schedule with how many PTO days I have available.

Who benefits when I have to push myself and go to work sick (and infect more people) so that I don’t lose a day’s pay – or hours toward more earned vacation/PTO time? Should my children have to go to school or daycare sick because I must return to work?

This is why the U.S. Department of Labor’s finalized rule on President Obama’s Executive Order on paid sick days, ensuring access to paid sick leave for over one million people working on federal contracts, is historic and monumental for working families. I’d like to take time to be able to go to the dentist for the first time in three years and take care of the tooth that has been bothering me – the tooth that will eventually end up costing way more to me and to insurance companies – all because I couldn’t take time off to take care of it on a more preventative front. Sometimes people tell me that I need to take care of myself. I wish I could. And I wish that I could just take care of my family the way that they deserve, too. And I wish that I could be the best employee, too.

Ultimately, I had to leave my job as a federal contractor because I couldn’t sustain my job and my family without paid sick days. If I had been given paid sick days, like the Department of Labor ruled, the balance would have been feasible.”

More stories of how paid sick days benefit real families:

Stories from the Front Lines of Motherhood

Working Families Story Bank
Family Values@Work


Sadie Kliner, National Partnership for Women & Families,, (202) 986-2600


Paid Sick Days and Paid Family and Medical Leave Are Not Job Killers
Center for American Progress: January 5, 2017

Sample Tweets and Shareables
National Partnership for Women & Families: January 1, 2017

Fast Facts on Who Has Access to Paid Time Off and Flexibility
Center for American Progress: April 26, 2016

Economic Policy Institute Paid Sick Leave Comments
Economic Policy Institute: April 12, 2016

Workers’ Access to Paid Sick Days in the States
Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Partnership for Women & Families: May 1, 2015

Support Paid Sick Days Fact Sheets
National Partnership for Women & Families