Obama Marks Labor Day With New Order Expanding Paid Sick Leave

President Barack Obama on Monday will issue an executive order expanding paid sick leave for federal contract employees and call on Congress to pass similar legislation, marking Labor Day with a speech at a morning rally in Boston, Massachusetts, where voters recently approved a more worker-friendly policy.

The order will require federal contractors to offer one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, although individual firms could choose to give greater coverage. Overall, the new rule is expected to benefit nearly 300,000 workers who did not previously have paid sick leave. An estimated 44 million private sector employees do not have such coverage.

The new policy will not go into effect until after a public comment period and only applies to new federal contracts that start in 2017. But White House officials say they hope it will help keep up momentum for the country’s growing workers’ rights movement.

“We have to do better, and we can do better,” said White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett during a press call Sunday. “It’s good for business, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for the American family.”

Obama is also expected to urge lawmakers to adopt the Healthy Families Act, which could mandate that any company with 15 or more workers must provide at least seven days of paid sick leave annually.

In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama noted that the U.S. is “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”

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