Pittsburgh has enacted an ordinance that will require all employers in the city to provide paid sick leave to employees. The law takes effect March 15, 2020.
Update February 15, 2020: Pittsburgh recently released guidance concerning its paid sick leave ordinance. Among other things, the guidance provides the following clarifications:
- Employees begin accruing sick time on March 15, 2020. Hours worked prior to this date will not count towards accrual.
- Employers that currently provide paid vacation, sick or other leave that meets or exceeds the ordinance's requirements are not required to provide additional time.
- All employees (regardless of their work location) must be counted when determining accrual rates. However, only employees who have worked at least 35 hours in a calendar year in Pittsburgh will be entitled to paid sick leave.
- Employees whose job duties include regularly driving through Pittsburgh but never stopping in the City (such as trucks drivers) are covered on the law. Such time is considered time performing work within the City.
- A new employer that "acquires" a business must uphold all previously earned sick time by employees who remain employed.
· Covered employees include those who transfer locations under the same employer within, not outside, the City.
The ordinance applies to all employers who do business in the city. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 15 employees may provide unpaid sick leave up to March 15, 2021, and then must provide paid sick leave thereafter.
To calculate the number of employees, employers should count all employees, excluding the owner(s).
Employees who work at least 35 hours within the geographic boundaries of the City in a calendar year are covered. Only work performed within the City is required to be included when computing accrued sick time. Employers must allow a covered employee to use previously earned sick time after the employee transfers to a separate division, entity, or location for the same employer outside the city of Pittsburgh.
Accrual and Cap:
Employees may begin accruing sick leave on March 15, 2020, or their date of hire, whichever occurs later. Employees are entitled to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked for the employer in Pittsburgh. Employers with 15 or more employees may cap accrual at 40 hours. Employers with fewer than 15 employees may cap accrual at 24 hours.
Accrued, unused sick leave must be carried over to the following year, unless the employer frontloads the leave (provides employees with the sick time they are entitled to at the start of each calendar year).
New employees may be required to wait until their 90th calendar day of employment to use accrued sick leave. Existing employees may use sick leave as it accrues.
Covered employees may use sick time in hourly increments or the smallest increment that the employer's payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time. Employees are not required to find a replacement to cover sick time hours.
Sick leave may be used for the following purposes:
- An employee's or a family member's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- An employee's or a family member's medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
- An employee's or a family member's preventive medical care;
- The closure of the employee's workplace or their child's school or daycare due to a public health emergency; and
- The care of a family member who has been exposed to a communicable disease and a health official or healthcare provider has concluded that the individual's presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others.
A family member is defined as:
- A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, a child of a domestic partner, or a child to whom the employee stands in place of a parent;
- A biological, foster, adoptive, or step-parent, or legal guardian of an employee or an employee's spouse or domestic partner or a person who stood in place of a parent when the employee was a minor child;
- A domestic partner or spouse;
- A grandparent or a grandparent's spouse or domestic partner;
- A grandchild;
- A biological, foster, or adopted sibling; and
- Any individual for whom the employee has received permission from the employer to care for at the time of the leave request.
Employees must provide an oral request for sick time in advance and include the anticipated duration of the absence when possible. Employees should make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of sick time so that it does not unduly disrupt employer operations.
When the leave is foreseeable, employers may require reasonable advance notice, not to exceed seven days. In the absence of specific employer rule, notification at least one hour prior to a shift is generally sufficient. If advanced notice isn't feasible, employees must provide noticed as soon as possible.
Employers must post a notice of employee rights in a conspicuous location at each worksite. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish, and any other primary languages of the employees at the particular workplace. Written notice must include indicate:
- That retaliation against employees who request or use sick leave is prohibited; and
- That employees have the right to file a complaint with the City.
A sample notice can be found on the City's website.
For sick time that lasts for three or more full consecutive days, employers may require reasonable documentation that the leave is for a reason permitted by the ordinance; however, it may not require that the documentation specify the nature of the illness. In addition, employers may not require employees using sick time to explain the details of the employee's or their family member's medical condition.
Employers must document and retain employees' records of hours worked and sick leave taken for two years. It's recommended that employers choose a reasonable system for providing notification of accrued sick time, including listing updated accruals on pay stubs or in an online system where employees can access the information.
If an employer possesses any health information about a covered employee or that employee's family member, the employer should treat such information as confidential and take reasonable steps to protect its confidentiality. No such information should be disclosed except to the affected employee or with the prior written permission of the employee in accordance with applicable law/regulations.
Paid sick time is compensated at the same base rate of pay and with the same benefits, including health care benefits, as an employee would have earned at the time of their use of sick time.
Unless an employer requires verification, it's recommended that an employer pay for accrued paid sick time no later than the payday for the pay period in which the time was used. If an Employer requires verification, paid sick time should be paid no later than the payday for the pay period during which verification is provided. Timing of payment must comply with all applicable wage payment laws.
Impact on Existing Paid Time Off Policies:
Employers with existing paid leave practices, such as a paid time off (PTO) policy, do not have to provide additional sick leave if:
- The PTO that is provided meets or exceeds the ordinance's accrual requirements; and
- The leave may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as required by the ordinance.
Paid leave benefits provided by an employer in excess of what's required under the ordinance are not subject to the ordinance's requirements.
Employers should review their paid leave polices, practices, forms, and supervisor training to ensure compliance. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.