Last summer, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania revived the Paid Sick Days Act (PSDA), a 2015 ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to any employee who performs at least 35 hours of work within the geographical boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh (City) in any calendar year. The high court's ruling came more than two years after a lower court struck down the PSDA as exceeding the City's authority under state law.
On December 16, 2019, the Mayor's Office of Equity (MOE), the entity charged with administering and enforcing the PSDA, issued its official guidelines for administering the PSDA (Guidelines). The Guidelines set the effective date of the PSDA as March 15, 2020. Thus, any business with an employee who performs 35 hours or more of work within the City of Pittsburgh should begin preparing to comply with the PSDA.
While a more exhaustive discussion of the PSDA requirements can be found here, it is important to remember the following key provisions (as recently clarified in the Guidelines):
- Employers with 15 or more employees must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked, up to a maximum accrued amount of 40 hours in a calendar year. Accrued sick leave must carry over from year to year, unless the full amount of sick leave is granted to employees at the beginning of each calendar year.
- Employers with less than 15 employees must comply with the same obligations set forth above, except that the maximum hours that can be accrued and carried over is 24, and for the first year (e. from March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2021), the sick leave can be unpaid.
- The requirements for paid sick leave apply to both full-time and part-time employees.
- Employers must provide written notice of the PSDA requirements to their employees and post an agency approved notice poster, the updated version of which can be found here.
- The Guidelines clarify that when an employer is located outside of the City, but an employee performs work within the City said employee is entitled to sick leave under the PSDA once the employee performs at least 35 hours of work within the City in a calendar year. In such instances, only the work performed within the City will be included in the computation of paid sick leave.
- Employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees who exercise their rights under the PSDA. Employers can be fined up to $100 for each violation of the PSDA. In addition, the City can seek full restitution for employees who suffer lost wages and benefits, as well as reinstatement.
Importantly, employers need not adopt a separate sick day policy if their current paid time off policy complies with the PSDA. However, to comply with the PSDA, the paid time off policy must:
- Apply to both part-time and full-time employees who work in the City,
- Provide the employees with no less than the number of paid days off required under the PSDA, earned at no less than the same rate, and
- Permit employee to use the time off in the same manner as under the PSDA.
If not, then the employer must amend its current policy to incorporate the PSDA requirements, or adopt a separate PSDA policy.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.