January 13, 2020

Pittsburgh Paid Sick Leave: Implementation Guidelines and Effective Date

The City of Pittsburgh passed a Paid Sick Days Ordinance in August, 2015. The ordinance was challenged and the courts ruled against the City.  On July 17, 2019, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned the lower courts’ rulings, and concluded the Ordinance stands (see our prior Benefit Beat article, Return of Paid Sick Day Requirements in City of Pittsburgh, 8/1/19). 

The City of Pittsburgh subsequently issued updated guidelines for the Paid Sick Days Act, which will take effect March 15, 2020.  Following is a brief summary of these guidelines.

Covered employers.  An employer subject to the law includes any person, partnership, limited partnership, association, corporation, institution, trust, or a government body, unit, agency or other entity situated or doing business in the City, who employs one or more persons for a salary, wage, commission or other compensation. The federal government and the State of Pennsylvania are not subject to the law.

Covered employees.  Full-time and part-time individuals who work for a covered employer within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh are covered employees. An employee who works for an employer located outside of the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh but performs work within the City boundaries is considered a covered employee once he/she performs at least 35 hours of work in a calendar year within the City boundaries.

Independent contractors, state and federal employees, employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, or seasonal employees are not eligible for the benefit.

Amount, Accrual, Carryover and Frontloading of sick time

Employees accrue one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked in the City of Pittsburgh.

The amount and type of leave is based on employer size:

  • Employers employing 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year
  • Employers with 14 or fewer employees must provide up to 24 hours of unpaid sick time for the first year following the Ordinance’s effective date. Thereafter, the employer must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year.

Employees will begin to accrue paid sick time on March 15, 2020, or date of hire, whichever is later. Employees may begin to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 90th calendar day following commencement of employment; after which time, employees may use paid sick time as it is accrued.

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

If an employee terminates employment and is rehired within six months of separation from the same employer, any previously accrued sick time that was not used must be reinstated and available for immediate use. An employer is not required to pay out the balance of unused sick time upon separation from employment. However, if an employer chooses to pay out the balance of sick time and the employee is rehired, the employer is not required to reinstate any sick time upon rehiring of the employee.

Use of sick time.  Sick time can be taken 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. In addition, sick time can be taken due to closure of a place of business, school or day care due to a public health emergency. For this purpose, family member includes:

  • A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, a child of a domestic partner, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis;
  • A biological, foster, adoptive, or step-parent, or legal guardian of an employee or an employee’s spouse or domestic partner or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child;
  • A spouse or domestic partner;
  • A grandparent or grandchild; and
  • A biological, foster, or adopted sibling.

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.

Notice requirements

  • Employee notice obligations. The employee may request sick time in advance orally, or in writing. The request must include the anticipated duration of the absence. The employer may require up to a 7-day advanced notice of the need for leave. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee is required to notify the employer as soon as possible. If the need to use sick time is more than three consecutive days, the employer may require reasonable documentation of the need for leave; however, the employer cannot require the documentation to explain the nature of the illness.
  • Employer notice obligations
    • Employers are required to post a written notice in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where employees are employed. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish, and any other primary language of the employees at the particular workplace. The Mayor’s Office of Equity has prepared a sample notice for an employer’s use.
    • In addition, employers must provide notification of available accrued sick time with an employee’s pay stub or by maintaining an online system where employees can access the information.

Record retention.  Employers must retain records documenting hours worked by employees and paid sick time taken by employees for a minimum of two years.

Enforcement.  The Mayor’s Office of Equity will administer and enforce the provisions of the Paid Sick Days Act.


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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