15 Oct

October 2020: Philadelphia Provides Paid Sick Leave Related to COVID-19

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What happened?
On September 17, 2020, Mayor Kenney signed into law amendments that create new paid sick leave requirements related to COVID-19.

What are the details?
The city of Philadelphia already has a paid sick leave ordinance available to the workers inside the city limits. However, the city council has decided to expand the ordinance to emulate the leave provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The requirement to provide public health emergency leave will sunset on December 31, 2020.

Who Is Covered?
The new paid sick leave will apply to all employees working within the city limits for at least 40 hours in a one-year period. Notably, the definition of employee is being stretched so far in this ordinance that there is a clause included creating a rebuttable presumption that any individual performing work for a hiring entity is an employee.

All employers with 500 or more employees will be required to provide this public health emergency leave.

How Many Hours?
Employers will need to provide the greater of either 80 hours or the average hours worked over a 14-day period, up to a maximum of 112 hours, for employees who work 40 hours or more per week. Employees who work less than 40 hours per week will receive their prorated number of hours based on their average hours in a 14-day period.

The time period used to calculate the “average in a 14-day period” is based on the preceding six months before the public health emergency was declared. If the employee did not work during that time, the reasonable expectation of the covered employee at the time of hiring will be used instead.

The maximum amount of 112 hours is refreshed each time either:

  1. A public official declares a new public health emergency based on a different emergency health concern; or
  2. A public health official declares a second public health emergency for the same emergency health concern more than one month after the first public health emergency officially ended.

When Can the Leave Be Used?
As long as a public health emergency exists, the employees may use the leave for the following reasons:

  • Being subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to the public health emergency.
  • Being advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the public health emergency.
  • Experiencing symptoms related to the public health emergency and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order as described above or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as described above.
  • Caring for the covered individual’s child whose school or place of care has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to precautions taken in accordance with the public health emergency response.
  • Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Employers do not need to provide public health emergency leave to employees who may work remotely.

When the need to use the leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable. Employers may require a self-certified statement from employees that the leave they used was for a covered reason.

Notice and Posting Requirements

Employers are required to provide a covered individual with a notice of their rights prior to October 2, Covered individuals who have yet to receive this notice should be made aware of their rights immediately. This may also be satisfied by displaying a poster that contains the following information:

  • that employees are entitled to sick time;
  • the amount of sick time;
  • the terms of its use as guaranteed under the law;
  • that retaliation against employees who request or use sick time is prohibited; and
  • that each employee has the right to file a complaint or bring a civil action if sick time is denied by the employer or the employee is retaliated against for requesting or taking sick time.

If the physical workplace is not being used, the notice may be distributed online through email or a conspicuous posting on the employer’s web-based platform.

The information must also be included in any employee handbooks that are distributed to employees.

The city of Philadelphia has provided information on a dedicated webpage about this leave here.

The city-provided poster can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with 500 or more employees should contact their Client Relations Representative if they have any questions about employee eligibility.

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