Philadelphia COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

By Kris Janisch
Published May 19, 2021

Philadelphia COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

The city’s updated Public Health Emergency Leave (PEHL) law requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for issues related to COVID-19.

Philadelphia’s amended COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinance went into effect in late March and will remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic.

The city’s updated Public Health Emergency Leave (PEHL) law requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for issues related to COVID-19.

Signed by the Philadelphia mayor on March 29, the law is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.

COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave in Philadelphia

Employment Law Compliance LinkedIn GroupNotably, covered employees are defined as having worked for an employer for at least 90 days within Philadelphia — and those who would normally work in the city but are working remote due to the pandemic.

The law also applies to employees who work in multiple locations and spend 51 percent or more of their work time in Philadelphia, as well.

There is no accrual process for taking COVID-19 leave. The amount is in addition to all other types of leave, including previously taken PHEL in 2020.

While most employees would receive 80 hours of PHEL, there are other rates for employees who work fewer hours:

  • Part-time employees – the amount of time employee would usually work in a 14-day period
  • Employees with varying schedules – the average number of daily hours that the employee was scheduled over the past 90 days of work, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type, multiplied by 14

Also, for employees who do most of their work at home, employers do not have to change existing policies or provide PHEL if they already receive at least 80 hours of paid leave in 2021. Similarly, it doesn’t apply if an employer already provides 160 hours or more of paid time off in 2021 that is not specifically designated as sick leave.

Paid Leave Glossary

Reasons for Use

Like the COVID-19 paid sick leave law in California, the covered reasons for use are broad:

  • It has been determined the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others, regardless of a formal diagnosis
  • The employee must care for a family member who may have COVID-19
  • The employee needs to quarantine because of a positive test or is showing symptoms
  • The employee needs time for diagnosis or treatment
  • The employee needs to care for a child whose daycare or school is closed due to COVID-19
  • The employee is getting the vaccine
  • The employee needs time off to recuperate from issues due to a vaccination

Meanwhile, employers must display the related labor law posting, or send it electronically or post it in a commonly used web-based platform. Employees must also notify employers of their intention to use COVID-19 paid leave as soon as is feasible.

Employees receive the same rate of pay they normally would when taking PEHL in the city.

Paid Leave Management. Simplified.


Even as the country continues to reopen, the obligations for employers regarding COVID-19 continue.

With cities still requiring masks in some instances, hazard/hero pay, and paid leave considerations, HR teams must monitor new developments as long as the pandemic persists.

Employers with locations in Philadelphia should review their policies to ensure compliance with the updated PEHL law.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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