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Pittsburgh Passes Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

December 9, 2020
Emily E. Mahler
Posted in: Labor & Employment

On December 8, 2020, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved an emergency paid sick leave ordinance which temporarily provides paid leave to certain employees who cannot work due to circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The full text of the ordinance can be found here:  https://pittsburgh.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4701797&GUID=2D2C3863-DF9E-4127-A514-976420C4A7FD&Options=ID%7cText%7c&Search&FullText=1.  The bill awaits signature from Mayor Bill Peduto, and its requirements will take effect immediately upon its enactment.

The ordinance provides that employers with 50 or more employees shall provide up to 80 hours of sick time for COVID-19 related qualifying reasons to employees who work 40 hours or more per week.  Part-time employees working fewer than 40 hours per week shall be provided sick time in an amount equal to their regularly scheduled time or average hours worked in a 14-day period.  Note that coverage under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was limited to only employers with fewer than 500 employees.  As such, larger Pittsburgh employers previously excluded from FFCRA coverage must now adhere to the below requirements for paid leave benefits.

COVID-19 sick time is to be provided immediately, without the need for any waiting period, to any employee who has been employed by an employer for the previous 90-days.  Furthermore, COVID-19 sick time must be provided in addition to any paid sick leave provided by the employer pursuant to Pittsburgh’s “Paid Sick Days Act,” which mandates a grant of sick time for certain employees working within the City of Pittsburgh.

COVID-19 sick time is provided to all eligible employees unable to work (or telework) for the following absences related to COVID-19:

  1. Determination by a public official, public health authority, health care provider, or employer that the employee’s presence on the job 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, public health authority, health care provider, or the family member’s employer that the presence of the family member on the job 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 due to a COVID-19 diagnosis; (b) self-isolate and care for oneself because the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; (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 a COVID-19 diagnosis; (b) is self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; (c) needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19.

The ordinance was introduced in light of the upcoming expiration of the FFCRA leave requirements on December 31, 2020.  To the extent that federal or state laws require employers to provide paid leave or paid sick time related to COVID-19, employers may substitute leave under the federal or state law for its obligations under the ordinance, to the extent they coincide and the relevant federal or state law permits such concurrent use of paid leave.

The emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave requirement is temporary and will expire a week after Pittsburgh’s pandemic emergency expires.  The pandemic emergency was recently extended through January 12, 2021.

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 law may impact your business. We welcome your further inquiries.