Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Enacts Paid Sick Leave with New Ordinance
On September 14, 2021, the Allegheny County Council unanimously approved a new paid sick leave ordinance (the “County Ordinance”) requiring employers with 26 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to its employees. The County Ordinance comes on the heels of a nearly identical paid sick leave law vetoed in March of this year. It does not apply to independent contractors, State and Federal employees or certain seasonal employees.
The County Ordinance mandates that employees accrue one (1) hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked within the geographical boundaries of Allegheny County, unless the employer provides a faster accrual rate. Employees may accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year (any regular and consecutive 12-month period as defined by the employer) and may use the time:
for the diagnosis, care or treatment (including preventative care) of the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or
to care for a family with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment (including preventive care) of same; or
if the employee’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed for that reason; or
to care for a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities or a health care provider that the family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.
The County Ordinance contains notice requirements for employers as well as requirements for employees requesting paid sick time. Employers have the option of permitting employees to (a) carry over accrued paid sick time so long as the total paid sick time available does not exceed 40 hours per year or (b) front load the 40 hours in which case no carry-over policy would be necessary. Employees begin to accrue paid sick leave at the commencement of employment, and are entitled to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 90th day of employment.
The County Ordinance’s notice requirements are effective immediately, and the remainder of the Ordinance takes effect 90 calendar days following the County’s posting of the notice information for employers. Employers can be fined up to $100 each time they violate the County Ordinance. The County Ordinance is silent on its interplay with the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act, which went into effect in March 2020 and provides paid sick leave to eligible employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh, which, of course, is also located in Allegheny County. Future guidance on this issue is anticipated.