Obama said the United States is the only advanced nation not to guarantee paid sick leave to its workers
US President Barack Obama has signed an executive order requiring government contractors to offer their employees paid sick leave.
Obama made the announcement in his Labor Day speech in Boston on Monday.
The president said that in the current working environment many middle-class workers go to work sick. And he said many parents are forced to choose between taking an unpaid day off work and sending a sick child to school.
Obama said the United States is the only advanced nation not to guarantee paid sick leave to its workers.
The new directive allows federal contract workers to take up to 7 days of paid leave a year if they are sick or caring for a sick relative.
The White House said an estimated 44 million private-sector workers do not have access to paid sick leave. It said that's about 40 percent of the entire private-sector workforce.
It added that low- and middle-income workers are much less likely to have paid sick leave than high-income workers.
Obama said he called on Congress to pass legislation expanding paid sick and family leave.
The move is seen as an effort to gain the support of the middle class and make a lasting mark before his term runs out in less than a year and a half.