Despite many jurisdictions loosening COVID-19 restrictions, Philadelphia COVID paid leave appears to be on track.
The Philadelphia City Council in early March 2022 passed a new paid leave law regarding the pandemic.
Applying to employers with 25 or more employees, Philadelphia COVID-19 paid leave will go into effect when the mayor signs the bill. It would remain in effect until the end of 2023.
It is the third installment of a COVID-19 paid leave ordinance in the city.
“I’m proud to deliver emergency paid sick leave to Philadelphia workers once again, so that they will not be left out in the cold as we learn to live with the pandemic,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks said in a statement. “Previous versions of this bill demonstrated that sick leave is good for workplace safety, worker retention, and keeping businesses open—safely. With many other protections being phased out, we must ensure that we are not sacrificing our workforce for the sake of convenience or profit. I am grateful to my colleagues for standing up for the people who have carried the city on their backs through all phases of the pandemic. This is a victory for low-wage workers across the city who can now go into work with the peace of mind that they will never have to choose between staying home sick with COVID-19 and being unable to make rent or coming into work sick and putting the public in danger.”
Philadelphia COVID Paid Leave
Expected to be signed by the mayor, the new COVID paid leave law in Philadelphia is similar to previous versions. However, the amount of leave has come down.
For employees who work 40 or more hours in a week, employers must provide 40 hours of COVID-19 paid leave. For employees who work less than 40 hours in a week, it would be equal to the amount of time the employee is otherwise scheduled to work or actually works on average in a seven-day period, whichever is greater.
Meanwhile, the definition of “employee” is someone who has worked for a covered employee for at least 90 days and:
- Normally works for an employer within Philadelphia but is currently teleworking from any other location as a result of COVID-19
- Works for a Philadelphia employer from multiple locations or from mobile spots, provided that 51 percent or more of the employee’s time is within the city
Paid Leave Management. Simplified.
Covered Reasons for Use
Covered reasons for using COVID-19 paid leave in Philadelphia include:
- A determination from a public official, health care provider or employer that the worker would jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to the virus or they are showing symptoms, regardless of a positive test
- Caring for a family member in a similar situation
- Isolating due to a positive test or
- Seeing treatment or a diagnosis
- Caring for a family member who is quarantining, sick or needs to seek care
- Caring for a child whose school was closed due to COVID-19
- Recovering from a vaccination side effect
- Taking time to get a shot, including the booster
Employers with more generous policies — at least 120 hours of paid time off in 2022 — would not be subject to the ordinance, as long as employees can use the time for the reasons listed above.
COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Laws: What’s Left?
The ordinance also includes notice and recordkeeping requirements, and employees must provide notice to their employers about taking leave as soon as it’s feasible and foreseeable.
It also includes anti-retaliation language and employers may ask workers to certify that the leave was taken for covered reasons.
With the waning number of active COVID-19 paid leave laws across the U.S., it may be surprising to see Philadelphia moving toward a new paid leave ordinance.
It yet again underscores the constantly changing nature of employment law compliance.
Need a more in-depth look at the current state of employment law? Join our March 23, 2022, webinar, Roundup: What’s Happening in Employment Law Today.