By Erica K. Rocush, Shareholder

Companies that contract with the federal government will be required to offer paid sick days to their employees. This is the result of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama on September 7, 2015, and will affect about 300,000 workers.

The executive order applies to both part-time and full-time employees, and requires that federal contractors allow their employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave each year. The paid time off can be used for the employee to care for themselves, a family member, or a domestic partner; or to recover from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Other details of the order require that accrued, unused leave can carry over from year to year and that unused leave must be reinstated for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation. Accrued, unused leave does not need to be paid out upon separation of employment.

The order must still go through a public comment period, and therefore will apply only to contracts that are solicited or awarded beginning after 2016. The executive order does not apply to private sector employees, and while signing the executive order, the President urged Congress to act to require that private employers also provide paid family and medical leave to their employees.