In the last several years, more and more states and cities have passed laws requiring employers to provide “paid sick leave” to all employees. In fact, there are presently 15 states and 20 municipalities (including seven in California alone) that require employers to provide some form of paid sick leave.
Under these laws, employers are required to provide workers with a certain accrual of paid sick leave (e.g., 1 hour for every 30 hours worked), up to a maximum balance each year. For example, in Colorado, employees must accrue at least 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours each year. These laws also specify that paid sick leave can be used only in certain circumstances, such as when the employee is sick or caring for a sick family member.
Do These Laws Impact Construction Contractors?
Generally speaking, these paid sick leave laws apply to construction contractors, including workers who may be covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
A few states do provide exceptions for construction contractors, but the exclusions are very limited. For example, Minneapolis and St. Paul included a construction industry exemption, but the exemption applies only if the employees are paid at least the “prevailing wage” in the state of Minnesota.
Other states and municipalities either delayed the effective date for employees subject to a CBA (to allow for negotiations) or exempted employees subject to the CBA only if the union agrees to expressly “waive” application of the law.
Remember, too, even in areas exempting employees subject to a CBA, the contractor would still be required to implement paid sick leave policies for non-contract employees, such as office or shop employees.
What Can Contractors Do?
Contractors first need to assess whether they are subject to one of these paid sick leave laws. And, if so, whether an exemption applies. A list of the current states and cities where paid sick leave is required is available here: https://www.abetterbalance.org/our-issues/paid-sick-time/.
If the contractor has a facility or does work in one of these locations, it first needs to assess whether it is subject to an exemption or if the union would be willing to waive the application (if permitted under the law). A small increase to wages could be well spent to avoid the complicated accrual, use, and recordkeeping requirements included in most of these laws.
In the end, though, contractors may be left with no choice but to implement a paid sick leave policy for some or all of their workers in a particular jurisdiction. In these situations, contractors should be careful to implement a policy that meets the minimum requirements of the relevant state and local laws. A sample policy is available here. Of course, a contractor should review any new policy with a trusted labor and employment attorney before implementation. There may also need to be notice provided to any union representative.
Paid sick leave laws are not going anywhere. Contractors need to be prepared to either demonstrate the existence of an exemption or implement a “bare bones” policy that complies with the minimum requirements of the law in their jurisdiction.
This sample policy is a start. Remember, though, you should consult with legal counsel before implementing any new policies.