U.S. government employees are rejoicing after President Obama recently signed an order that would require all federal employers to offer paid sick leave to workers, starting in 2017.
According to the National Law Review, the executive order will apply to those with contracts to work with the federal government that were either solicited or awarded on or after Jan. 1, 2017.
Once it’s in effect, the legislation will allow all federal contractors to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employers cannot cap the total accrual under 56 hours, and employees will be eligible to carry over unused sick leave hours into the next year.
The order goes on to note that paid sick leave can be used in four separate circumstances: suffering from a medical condition; obtaining a diagnosis; caring for a loved one with an illness; or time off for legal proceedings relative to crimes such as domestic violence or sexual assault.
Suffering from an illness is the most common reason that paid sick leave is taken among Americans, especially as the seasons change and flu season approaches.
Offices are notoriously filled with germs, and the average office phone has a whopping 25,127 germs per square inch. As one recent study found, offering paid sick leave to employees can have a positive impact on the overall health of an entire city, in addition to the workplace itself.
According to local Michigan news affiliate WWMT, Cornell and the Swiss Economic Institute recently found that infection rates in U.S. cities that offer paid sick leave to employees are drastically lower than in states that do not.
Researchers say that these findings can be largely attributed to the fact that paid sick leave deters employees from going to work while ill, preventing the germs from spreading to others.
As for the executive order signed by President Obama, proponents of the bill hope that more states will make a concerted effort to offer paid sick leave for all employees, not just those who work under federal contracts.
As of right now, only four states offer paid sick leave for non-government contractors, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon.