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August 1, 2019

Paid Sick Leave Updates: Pittsburgh, San Antonio and Dallas

Return of Paid Sick Day Requirements in City of Pittsburgh

The City of Pittsburgh passed a Paid Sick Days Ordinance in August, 2015. Local restaurants and businesses challenged the City's authority to enact such ordinance. The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court previously ruled against the City in both cases. On July 17, 2019, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned the lower courts’ rulings, and ruled that the Ordinance could stand. This means that employers in Pittsburgh will be required to provide a paid sick leave benefit, however, the date the law becomes effective is unknown at this time.

To review the provisions of the Ordinance, as enacted in 2015, following is a brief summary.

  • An employer subject to the Ordinance includes a person, partnership, limited partnership, association, corporation, institution, trust, government body or agency, or any other entity situated or doing business in the City who employs one or more persons for a salary, wage, commission or other compensation. The ordinance does not apply to the federal government nor the State of Pennsylvania.
  • An eligible employee includes any full-time and part-time individual who works for an employer within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh.  Independent contractors, state and federal employees, employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, or seasonal employees are not eligible for the paid sick leave benefit.

Amount, accrual, frontloading, and carryover of leave

An employee is entitled to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked in the City of Pittsburgh.  Employees begin to accrue paid sick time on the effective date of the ordinance, or date of hire, whichever is later. Employees may begin to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th calendar day following the date of hire. After the 90th calendar day of employment, employees may use paid sick time as it is accrued.

The amount of paid sick leave an employer must provide is contingent up the size of its workforce, as follows:

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave per year.
  • Employers with 14 or fewer employees must provide up to 24 hours or three days of unpaid sick leave for the first year after the Ordinance’s effective date. Thereafter, the employer must provide up to 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave per year. 

Employees are eligible to carry over either 40 (or 24 hours) of unused sick time to the following calendar year, unless the employer front-loads 40 (or 24 hours) of paid sick time at the beginning of each calendar year.

Cash out of the unused sick time upon termination of employment is not required.

Use of leave

Leave can be taken for any of the following reasons:

  1. To care for one’s own needs, or for the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition including preventive care services.  For this purpose, family member includes:
  • A child (biological, adopted, foster, step) or legal ward, a child of a domestic partner, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis;
  • Spouse or domestic partner;
  • A parent (biological, foster, adoptive, or step), or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child;
  • Sibling (biological, foster, or adopted); and
  • A grandparent or grandchild.
  1. Closure of a place of business, school or day care due to a public health emergency.

Notice Requirements

  • Employee notice obligations.  The employee may request sick leave orally or in writing. The request must include the anticipated duration of the absence.  When the need for leave is foreseeable, the employer may require a 7-day advance notice of the need for leave.  When the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee must notify the employer as soon as possible. If the need for leave exceeds three consecutive days, then the employer may require reasonable documentation of the required time; however, the employer cannot require the documentation to explain the nature of the illness.
  • Employer notice obligations.  Employers are required to post a notice of the paid sick leave benefit in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where employees are employed.

Coordination with employer’s existing policy.  An employer’s existing paid time off plan will satisfy the requirements of this Ordinance if it meets or exceeds all of the requirements of the Ordinance.

Record retention.  Employers are required to retain records documenting hours worked by employees and paid sick leave taken by employees for two years.

Enforcement.  The City Controller has been designated as the enforcement agency of the paid sick day ordinance. 

We will keep you updated once the City releases guidance, especially with regard to when employers must begin complying with the law.  In the interim, employers in the City of Pittsburgh should review their current workplace policies in anticipation of accommodating the paid sick leave benefit.

San Antonio Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Delayed; Dallas on Track for August 1 Effective Date

The City of San Antonio enacted a paid sick leave ordinance about a year ago and the law was scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2019 (see our prior Benefit Beat articles from July, 2019 and September, 2018).  A group of San Antonio businesses brought forth a lawsuit against the City seeking an injunction against the ordinance.  As part of a compromise between the City and the business groups, a District Judge entered an order on July 24, 2019 to delay the implementation date of San Antonio’s ordinance from August 1, 2019 to December 1, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance is set to take effect August 1, 2019 (see our prior Benefit Beat article for a summary of this law).  Thus far, the City’s Fair Housing Department has established a webpage for providing information, including a City Council memo, the required workplace posting (English and Spanish), slide presentation, and administrative rules.  On July 30, 2019, litigation against the Ordinance commenced.  At the time of this writing, it is unclear whether this challenge will change the trajectory of the August 1st effective date of Ordinance.

 

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

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