In the wake of the recent spike in COVID-19 exposures throughout the country, the city of Philadelphia has enacted many mitigation measures, including restrictions intending to limit exposures occurring in the workplace. As per the “Safer At Home” restrictions[1] announced on November 16, 2020, offices are permitted to have only employees that cannot work remotely. However, even if a business has employees that are unable to work remotely, certain laws have been put in place which affect the operations of said businesses. Namely, all businesses operating or employing persons within the City of Philadelphia must ensure that they comply with Philadelphia’s recent sick leave laws applying specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philadelphia City Council passed an Ordinance amending Chapter 9-4100 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces”, on September 10, 2020, with Mayor Jim Kenney signing the amendment on September 17, 2020. The full text of the ordinance can be found here:

The primary intent of this Ordinance is to provide two weeks of paid leave to employees not covered under the paid leave requirements of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This Ordinance applies to all employers, regardless of the size or number of employees. Under the Ordinance “covered individuals” include any employee subject to the following circumstances:

  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.

Furthermore, a “covered individual” is defined as any employee who physically reports to a job and works more than 40 hours in a year within the City of Philadelphia. As such, the primary exceptions to those covered by this Ordinance are employees entitled to FFCRA leave from an employer, as well as employees who can successfully telework or otherwise work remotely. 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.

As it pertains to the specific amount of leave afforded to those covered by the Ordinance, covered individuals who work 40 hours or more per week are entitled to the greater of the following options:

  1. 80 hours of leave; or
  2. The average hours worked over a 14-day period, up to a maximum 112 hours.

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 provisions of this Ordinance are set to expire on December 31, 2020.  No hiring entity is required to provide a covered individual public health emergency leave or allow a covered individual to use public health emergency leave previously provided after December 31, 2020.

The attorneys at Margolis Edelstein are ready and available to answer any questions that you may have when responding to employment concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and any specific questions or for general guidance about how this new Ordinance may impact your business. We welcome your further inquiries.


[1] For full restrictions put in place by the “Safer at Home” restriction, see