Contractors have always faced difficulties when it comes to receiving the same benefits that full-time employees receive. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 44 million people (39 percent of the private sector) do not have paid sick leave. This not only applies to receiving vacation and sick days, but also includes coverage under workers’ compensation, as employers will often try to claim that an official employment relationship did not exist, and thus they do not need to extend benefits to someone who was injured on the job.
There is no federal or Pennsylvania labor law that requires employers to pay an employee for sick or vacation time. Employers are free to follow their own rules for these types of benefits (which means that they are often not included, particularly for those who are not considered ‘regular employees’).
Although Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter signed a modest sick-leave law in February, the Senate approved a bill in April that would invalidate it. Under the new law for the city, businesses with ten or more employees would have had to provide at least an hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, benefitting about 200,000 Philadelphians. However, employees that were still not covered included independent contractors, seasonal workers, adjunct professors, and more.
In addition, laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act only entitle “eligible” employees of “covered” employers to take unpaid but job-protected leave for family or medical reasons, meaning that having to take sick time could not only cost you a day’s wages, but also your job.
Draft Executive Order
President Obama is currently mulling an executive order that would mandate paid sick leave for federal contractors. This would cover any companies doing business with the federal government, and mandate at least seven days (or 56 hours) of paid sick leave per year. This leave could also be used for the purposes of preventative care, caring for a sick relative or the equivalent, or domestic violence-related situations, and would mandate that any unused leave would have to accrue. In addition, the employee seeking leave could not be required to seek a replacement to cover his/her sick leave, and the order could not have an effect on wages (i.e. causing employers to reduce wages in order to compensate for providing the leave). The order would affect hundreds of thousands of workers because it would apply to federal contractors and their subcontractors.
It is clear that the Labor Department considers the issue to be urgent, and the executive order is intended to get around a legislative process that would either take too long or not result in any legislation at all.
Solnick & Associates, LLC
The Pennsylvania personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Solnick & Associates represent all victims of accidents across Pennsylvania, including contractors and subcontractors. Contact us today for a free consultation so that we can help you build your case.