Obama Administration Takes Action on Paid Sick Leave, Fair Pay

The Obama administration this week announced two new actions to advance paid sick leave and fair pay for American workers.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor finalized its rule to implement an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide employees with up to seven days of paid sick leave per year – an order that President Obama signed on Labor Day last year. In April, The Leadership Conference – joined by 18 other organizations – submitted comments in strong support of the proposed rule.

Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference, praised the announcement, saying “the administration is showing true leadership for working people.”

“Expanding paid sick leave is crucial to low-income families, who are often unable to sacrifice a day’s wage when ill. Paid sick leave is also vital for working women, especially women of color, who are more likely to work in jobs that do not offer paid sick leave and are more likely to need time off to care for a sick child,” Zirkin said in a statement. “In addition to benefiting working families, a growing body of research has shown that offering paid sick days benefits employers by reducing turnover and increasing productivity.”

The administration also announced that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will, for the first time, collect summary pay data – broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity – from all businesses with 100 or more employees. The data collection will cover approximately 60,000 employers and 63 million employees.

“And the historic announcement that the EEOC will collect pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity will provide desperately needed transparency to the opaque and unequal pay discrimination that’s rampant in the American workplace,” Zirkin said. “We know about the massive gender and race wage gaps in this country, and collecting data from employers is a concrete step toward correcting this injustice. We applaud the administration for today’s actions, which will help all working people have greater access to the middle class.”

Read a fact sheet about the actions here.