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New paid sick leave rules for federal contractors

Certain categories of contractors and subcontractors performing work for the U.S. government will have increased sick leave requirements once Executive Order 13706 becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2017. People employed by these companies in Texas and around the country will gain a right to sick leave that goes beyond any employment rights established by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

A covered employee will have access to paid time off when dealing with an illness that is physical or mental. Injuries and other medical conditions represent valid reasons to use the sick time as well. Time needed for diagnostic or preventative care will also be granted under the new regulations. An employee who needs to care for a sick or injured family member may legitimately request paid days off.

The regulations for contractors provide a broad definition of family members. The rule applies to caring for a child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner. Any blood relative or someone regarded as a family member regardless of biology may be cared for by a contracted employee. Additionally, an employee has the right to paid sick time when coping with domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

Although the new paid sick days for federal contractors grant rights many private sector employees do not have access to, federal employment law does protect workers from discrimination based on gender, age, race, disability and religion. There are also federal and state laws relating to wage and hour violations, including overtime pay. People who feel that they have been unfairly treated by their employer may wish to meet with an attorney in order to learn what rights they may have.

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