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Federal contract workers get sick leave by presidential order

President Barak Obama continues to alter the labor landscape bit by bit by virtue of executive order. His latest move came earlier this month. He signed an order declaring that starting on Jan. 1, 2017, federal contractors must offer employees paid sick leave as part of their employment benefits.

The move follows an order at the start of the summer in which the Labor Department announced that overtime pay would be made available for millions more American workers. And, of course, there have been the orders raising the minimum wage to federal contract workers, restricting labor law violators from doing business with the government and extending anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender employees.

Under the sick leave benefit rule, federal contract employees could earn up to seven days of paid time off for sickness each year. The order is expected to affect about 300,000 individuals, some of them in Texas.

The president says many companies support the policy because of the boost it provides for recruitment and retention. And administration officials say the translation of that into improved productivity and efficiency should offset costs of employers implementing the policy.

But Republicans and business advocates aren't convinced. A spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business calls mandatory paid leave a great benefit for companies that can afford it. But he says those that can't will likely have to recoup costs by shortening hours, cutting wages or laying off workers.

Whether or not the dire predictions from business come to pass, it seems safe to expect that the rights provided under the latest executive order won't be granted without some measure of a struggle. Working with an experienced federal labor attorney is recommended to protect your employee rights.

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