Update: The law is set to go into effect March 15, 2020
After years in the Pennsylvania legal system, Pittsburgh finally has its paid sick leave ordinance.
Initially approved in 2015, the ordinance faced challenges from businesses groups, which were twice successful in stalling the measure in lower courts.
However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in mid-July ruled 4-3 in favor of Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act.
How Paid Sick Leave Works in Pittsburgh
Under the measure, employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The paid sick leave ordinance requires Pittsburgh employers to provide:
- Up to 40 hours per year for employers with 15 or more employees
- Up to 24 hours per year for employers with 15 or fewer employees
While the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act to was initially to go into effect in January 2016, it’s unclear when the law will be effective. The city is expected to issue further clarification through regulations or guidance on the law soon. That explanation is expected to include the effective date.
Also of note: the state legislature has considered a bill that would block cities from enacting their own paid sick leave rules.
In terms of usage, employees in Pittsburgh may take the time for their own illness or injury, or to care for a family member. There are also provisions in the legislation that prohibit an employer for retaliating against an employee for using the time off.
Find more details on the Pittsburgh city website.
“Guaranteeing paid sick leave is a huge win for those who live and work in Pittsburgh. As I’ve long said, people should not be forced into the making the tough decision between staying home sick and missing a day’s pay, or coming in to work and spreading infection,” Mayor William Peduto said in a statement. “I want to thank the Supreme Court for affirming Pittsburgh’s statutory powers to do what’s best for our people, and the four Pittsburgh City Council members who sponsored the 2015 Paid Sick Days Act: Corey O’Connor, Natalia Rudiak, Deb Gross and the Rev. Ricky Burgess.”
Paid Sick Leave Challenges Elsewhere
Legal challenges to paid sick leave laws have cropped up elsewhere, most notably in Texas.
Three Texas cities — Austin, Dallas and San Antonio — have passed paid sick leave ordinances. All three have seen business groups question their legality in the courts.
Austin and San Antonio paid sick leave laws are on hold as a result of the legal challenges. But Dallas has moved forward with its paid sick leave requirements, effective Aug. 1, 2019, despite the legal challenge.
With paid sick leave laws being passed and/or challenged in the courts, employers must remain aware of the latest regulations and their impact on compliance.
Many rules apply in different jurisdictions: notices, rates of accrual and pay, and more. Tracking paid leave laws will continue to be a major component of the efforts of compliance, payroll and HR teams.