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We Need Your Help! An Opportunity To Recognize Family Diversity

We Need Your Help! An Opportunity to Recognize Family Diversity

Last September, President Obama signed an Executive Order to provide employees of federal contractors with paid sick time for personal or family health needs. The President’s action will provide critical support to hundreds of thousands of workers who do not currently earn paid sick time, and it also continues the incredible momentum for paid sick time campaigns around the country.

One important component of the Executive Order is its recognition that families today are diverse. The Department of Labor recently issued proposed rules to implement the President’s Executive Order, and we are thrilled that they define family broadly to include “chosen family”—or close friends and other loved ones with whom a worker may not share a biological or legal relationship. The Department of Labor has specifically requested feedback on this family definition, and we need your help before April 12th to ensure that the final rules include the proposed language! During the notice and comment period for rules like this one, the number of comments received can make a true difference in the final language.

According to the United States Census, only 20% of households in the country consist of a “nuclear” family, meaning a married mother, father, and their own children. Rather, families today come in all shapes and sizes. For example, many families consist of single parents, multi-generational and extended relatives, unmarried significant others, and chosen family. Despite this reality, American laws and policies too often define family narrowly based on the outdated model of a “nuclear” family. Fortunately, President Obama’s proposed Executive Order provides an opportunity to establish paid sick time rights that recognize family diversity, including extended family and other loved ones. If the current family definition remains in the final Department of Labor rules, it will also provide a powerful example for city and state officials across the country. 

Here are details about how you can submit a comment in support of the proposed rule change, as well as a link to a sample comment that you can use or adapt:

When: The deadline for submission is April 12, 2016

How: There are two ways to submit your comment:

1) Electronic submission here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=WHD-2016-0001-0001. There is a blue button saying “comment now!” on this page.

2) OR submit one copy by mail to: Robert Waterman, Compliance Specialist, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S–3510, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210.

What: An example template that you can copy and then adapt or submit is available here.

Keep in Mind: Your comment must include the Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1235–AA13, and mention the Department of Labor. This information is already included in the example template available here. Also, please be aware that all comments will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov.

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