Obama Finishes Rules on Paid Sick Leave and Equal Pay for Women

  • The president seeks to expand his legacy on labor issues
  • Federal contractors must provide paid sick leave next year

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk on the south lawn of the White House on Sept. 28, 2016, in Washington.

Photographer: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The Obama administration will compel employers with federal contracts to provide paid sick leave for workers and require all businesses to collect data on salary differences between men and women under two final rules issued Thursday.

The first rule, which President Barack Obama announced last year, will require federal contractors to provide as many as seven days of paid sick leave for their employees. The White House said the rule will mean additional sick leave for more than 1 million people, including employees at top federal contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The rule takes effect January 1, 19 days before Obama leaves office.

“This rule means that the federal government is putting our money where our mouth is,” Obama said in an interview with Slate.com “We know that providing at least seven paid sick days a year to our contracted workforce will give us the best value for taxpayer dollars and is good for workers and business alike.”

In a separate action, the Labor Department will require companies with more than 100 employees to report salary data broken down by gender, race and ethnicity for the first time.

The rule, intended to encourage companies to combat pay gaps between workers of different genders or races, will affect about 60,000 employers, the White House said. Companies will have to report the data by March 31, 2018.

The two rules stem from executive orders Obama has signed within the last 13 months, as he’s sought to expand his legacy on labor issues in the final months of his presidency. Congress has tried to delay implementation of a new regulation to expand overtime pay protections to 4 million workers, and 21 states filed a lawsuit against that rule this month.

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