November 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 332

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COVID-19 Leave Arrives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On December 9, 2020, Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto signed a new ordinance granting COVID-19 Sick Time to certain employees working within the City.

Interaction with Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act

This ordinance supplements the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act (“PSDA”), which took effect earlier this year in March.  The ordinance also amends the PSDA by expressly permitting employees to take sick time under the PSDA before it is accrued, if the reason for use arises directly from COVID-19.

Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Time

Pittsburgh employers with more than 50 employees working in the City must provide paid COVID-19 Sick Time to their employees for COVID-19-related reasons.  The law applies to employees who are (a) working for that employer within Pittsburgh after the effective date of this ordinance, (b) normally work for that employer within the City of Pittsburgh but are currently teleworking from any other location as a result of COVID-19, or (c) work for that employer from multiple locations or from mobile locations, provided that 51% or more of such employee’s time is spent within the City of Pittsburgh.

An employee may take up to 80 hours of leave, and this time is in addition to time under the PSDA.  COVID-19 Sick Time is also in addition to any paid leave or sick time provided by the employer, with a few caveats. An employee is to provide notice to the employer of the need for COVID-19 Sick Time as soon as practicable.

Eligible employees may take COVID-19 Sick Time leave for the following reasons, if they are unable to telework:

  1. Determination by a public official or public health authority, a health care provider, or an employee’s employer that the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 or because the individual is exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  2. Care of a family member of the employee due to a determination by a public official or health authority, a health care provider, or the family member’s employer that the presence of the family member on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to COVID-19 or a determination by the employer that the employee is a danger to the health of others because they are exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  3. An employee’s need to: (a) self-isolate and care for oneself because the employee is diagnosed with COVID-19; (b) self-isolate and care for oneself because the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or (c) seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19; or
  4. Care of a family member who: (a) is self-isolating due to being diagnosed with COVID-19; (b) is self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or (c) needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Sick Time Leave Entitlement

Employees who work 40+ hours a week.  For employees who work 40 hours or more per week, their leave entitlement is 80 hours, unless the employer designates a higher limit.

Employees who work less than 40 hours a week.  Employees who work fewer than 40 hours in a week are entitled to leave in an amount equal to the amount of time the employee is otherwise scheduled to work or works on average in a 14-day period, whichever is greater and unless the employer designates a higher limit.  In the case of an employee whose schedule varies from week to week, the employer can use a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled over the past 90 days of work, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type.

COVID-19 Sick Time must be provided to employees immediately, without any waiting period or accrual requirements, once they have been employed by the employer for the previous 90 days.  If an employer provided paid leave prior to the effective date of this ordinance, the COVID-19 Sick Time is in addition to that paid leave.  An employer may not change such paid leave after the ordinance’s effective date to avoid providing leave under the ordinance.

Interaction With Other Laws & Employer Policy

To the extent that federal or state law requires employers to provide paid sick leave or paid sick time related to COVID-19, employers may substitute leave under the federal or state law to meet the obligations under this ordinance to the extent they coincide and such concurrent use is permitted.  However, employers are required to provide additional COVID-19 Sick Time under the ordinance to the extent the ordinance exceeds the requirements of the federal or state law.

Similarly, to the extent that an employer has adopted a policy subsequent to the March 13, 2020 Pennsylvania COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency which provides its employees with additional paid sick time specifically for use during COVID-19, employers may substitute leave under its employer policy for the leave required under this ordinance to the extent they coincide. However, employers must provide additional COVID-19 Sick Time under the ordinance to the extent the ordinance exceeds the requirements of the employer’s COVID-19 specific paid sick policy.

The ordinance is in effect immediately now that the Mayor has signed.  Further guidance is anticipated from the City.

A link to the full text of the ordinance can be found here. The ordinance is in effect until the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency or the Pittsburgh COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency ends, whichever is sooner.  Employees may use COVID-19 Sick Time until 1 week following the official end of the public health emergency.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume X, Number 345
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About this Author

Sheri Giger, Jackson Lewis, human resource policy attorney, employment labor development lawyer,
Principal

Sheri L. Giger is a Principal in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on preventive human resource policy development, training and counseling and advice.

Ms. Giger also works on policy/handbook development, particularly for multi-state issues and compliance. She also works with compliance issues under the American with Disabilities Act, as amended, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, as amended. Ms. Giger counsels and conducts extensive training on topics such as anti-harassment...

412-338-5146
Sean Dawson Attorney employment-related litigation Jackson Lewis Pittsburgh
Associate

Sean Dawson is an Associate in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice is focused primarily on representing employers in employment-related litigation before administrative agencies and courts at both the state and federal levels.

While in law school, Mr. Dawson served as the Senior Topics Editor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. He also served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Nora Barry Fischer and the Honorable Kevin Sasinoski.

Professional Associations and Activities

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412-338-5187
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