Allegheny County paid sick leave remains a work in progress following action this week from the county council.
Paid sick leave in Allegheny County — the second most populous county in Pennsylvania — seemed poised to pass in March 2021.
However, the county’s chief executive vetoed the ordinance, saying the Paid Sick Days Act could face legal challenges. Instead, he recommended the law come from the Allegheny County Board of Health.
UPDATE, Sept. 23, 2021: The ordinance has passed. Learn more on GovDocs’ Employment Law Minute.
Several weeks ago, the board of health, after holding public hearings, approved rules and regulations relating to paid sick days for Allegheny County residents.
But instead of passing the paid sick leave law, the bill in late August was referred to the county’s Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.
Paid Leave Management. Simplified.
Paid Sick Leave in Allegheny County
While the final law, if eventually passed, could change, the board of health outlined what the paid sick leave law in Allegheny County could entail.
First, it would apply to employers with 26 or more workers in the county, excluding independent contractors, state and federal employees, as well as seasonal workers.
Employees would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The maximum accrual would be 40 hours, though employers could designate a higher amount.
Accrual would start at the effective date of the ordinance or the first day of employment, whichever is first. Employees could begin using paid sick leave on the 90th calendar day after being hired or the effective date of the law.
Reasons for use include:
- Employee’s or employee family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition
- Need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment and preventative medical care
- Business closure due to public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed for that reason
- Care for family member if a health authority or health care provider determines their presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others
Family member under the proposed law is defined as:
- Domestic partner
- Any individual the employee has received permission from their employer to care for
Also, carryover would be allowed, as well as frontloading. There would be no payout of unused paid sick leave upon separation of employment.
Lastly, the proposed law also includes notification requirements for employees, documentation for longer stretches of use, and recordkeeping for two years.
Paid Leave Across the U.S.
The paid sick leave ordinance being considered in Allegheny County highlights a growing aspect of employment law.
With the pandemic putting a spotlight on the need for paid leave, many jurisdictions have seen bills introduced, while others have expanded laws to cover public health emergencies like COVID-19.
In addition to several states, many smaller jurisdictions have examined implementing paid leave program. Plus, there have been discussions of a federal paid leave program.
It all adds up to a major compliance challenge for large employers, and HR teams must continue to monitor jurisdictions where they have locations for new employment laws — not only paid leave, but minimum wage, ban-the-box laws, predictive scheduling and more.
Whitepaper: What Employers Need to Know About Paid Leave Laws
While paid sick leave in Allegheny County has yet to take effect, the support of the county council earlier this year seems to indicate it’s only a matter of time.
With a large population and several large cities, including Pittsburgh, employers with locations in the county should evaluate their paid leave programs and the potential for adjustments in the future.