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Philadelphia Expands Paid Sick Leave Coverage for Individuals Impacted by COVID-19

September 23, 2020


Last week, Philadelphia City Council passed the Public Health Emergency Leave Bill, providing two weeks of paid sick leave to Philadelphia workers who are not entitled to leave by federal law. The regulations took effect immediately once Mayor Jim Kenney signed it into law on September 17, 2020.

The Ordinance is intended to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who were not covered under the paid leave requirements of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). City Council announced on its website that the Ordinance “will provide two weeks-worth of emergency paid sick leave for thousands of Philadelphia workers who continue to physically report their jobs.” Confirming the intent of the Ordinance, Council wrote that the Ordinance “comes as an enormous relief to healthcare workers, employees of businesses with more than 500 workers, nannies, gig economy workers, and contract workers, who have lacked adequate paid sick leave since the pandemic began in March.” City Council stated that “an estimated 3 million workers in Pennsylvania were left out” of leave provided by FFCRA, based the law’s exemptions. Tracking the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA, therefore, the Ordinance provides employees and “covered individuals” with two weeks of paid leave if the covered individual is:

  1. Subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order;
  2. Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the public health emergency;
  3. Experiencing symptoms related to the public health emergency and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. Caring for an individual who is subject to an order to quarantine or who has been advised to quarantine by a health care provider;
  5. Caring for a child of such covered individual if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to precautions taken in accordance with the public health emergency response; and
  6. Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the United States Secretary of the Treasury and the United States Secretary of Labor.

A “covered individual” includes any employee who physically reports to a job and works more than 40 hours in a year within the City of Philadelphia. The definition of “employer” includes employers of all sizes, regardless of the number of employees.

Covered individuals who work 40 hours or more per week are entitled to either (i) 80 hours of leave or (ii) the average hours worked over a 14-day period (up to a maximum of 112 hours), whichever is greater. Covered individuals who work less than 40 hours per week are entitled to an amount equal to the amount of wages or other compensation the covered employee receives on average in a 14-day period.

The Ordinance specifically exempts employees who are or were entitled to FFCRA leave from an employer. Such employees are not also entitled to public health emergency leave from the same employer under the Ordinance. Similarly, employees who can successfully telework are not entitled to paid sick leave. Finally, if an employer’s existing policy provides paid sick leave that satisfies or exceeds the amount of public health emergency leave, and employees may use paid sick for the same purposes and under all of the same conditions as set forth for public health emergency leave, the employer is not required to provide additional paid leave time.

The Ordinance went into effect on September 17, 2020 and will be in effect until December 31, 2020.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Public Health Emergency Leave Bill, the Labor and Employment attorneys at Montgomery McCracken are available to assist. Visit the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center for more information and updates on this constantly evolving situation.