Obama administration rolls out rules on paid sick leave, pay data

September 29, 2016 11:27 AM EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting with members of the military community hosted by CNN's Jake Tapper at Fort Lee in Virginia, U.S., September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


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By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - The Obama administration on Thursday finalized rules requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to employees and expanding the type of data employers must provide on their pay practices.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told reporters in a phone call that the sick leave rule would directly affect more than 1.1 million workers. Effective Jan. 1, it will require companies working on federal contracts to provide up to seven days of earned leave.

"You shouldn’t have to win the boss lottery or the geographic lottery to have access to paid sick leave," Perez said, noting that the rule would help businesses by decreasing turnover and ensuring sick employees don't show up for work.

Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal employment discrimination laws, released the final version of a new reporting form requiring employers with 100 or more employees to annually disclose aggregated pay data. The information must be broken down according to the gender, race and ethnicity of employees.

EEOC Chair Jenny Yang said on the call that the new reporting requirements would make it easier for the agency to root out discriminatory pay practices.

Business groups, however, say analyzing pay data is complicated, and the new information employers must disclose will do little to help the EEOC while opening companies up to more discrimination claims.

The same groups and many Republicans in Congress say the sick leave rule could discourage many employers, particularly small businesses, from seeking federal contracts.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and David Gregorio)



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