On September 14, 2021, the Allegheny County Council approved a paid sick leave ordinance requiring employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to its employees. The ordinance became effective December 15, 2021.
Employers subject to the ordinance
The ordinance applies to employers employing 26 or more employees, including local governments. Employer does not include the state or federal government.
For purposes of determining employer size, all employees are counted, regardless of whether they are in or outside the county or are an eligible employee as defined below.
An eligible employee is an individual who works within the geographic boundaries of the County for at least 35 hours in a calendar year. Employee does not include independent contractors, state and federal employees, or seasonal employees (an individual who has been hired for a temporary period of not more than sixteen weeks during a calendar year).Calendar year is any 12 consecutive month period defined by the employer.
Amount of leave
Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked within the geographical boundaries of Allegheny County. An employee shall accrue no more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year, unless the employer designates a higher amount.
Employees will begin to accrue paid sick leave on December 15, 2021 or date of hire, whichever is later. Employees may begin to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th day following commencement of employment.
Employees are eligible to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave to the following calendar year. At its option, the employer could front-load 40 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of each calendar year. No carry over is required if the employer front loads leave.
An employer is not obligated to pay out any unused sick leave upon separation of employment. When there is a separation from employment and the employee is rehired within 6 months of separation by the same employer, previously accrued paid sick leave that had not been used shall be reinstated
Use of leave
Leave 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, leave can be taken if the employee’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed for that reason. Leave can also be taken to care for a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities or a health care provider that the family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.
Family member means a biological, adopted, foster or step child; a biological, adopted, foster or step parent; spouse; domestic partner; grandparent; grandchild; biological, adopted or foster sibling; or any other individual, sanctioned by the employer, for whom the employee has care giving responsibilities.
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.
The employee may request sick leave orally or in writing. The request shall include the anticipated duration of the absence. The employer may require reasonable advance notice of the intention to use such sick leave not to exceed seven days prior to the need for leave. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee shall notify the employer as soon as possible.
If the need for leave is more than three consecutive days, the employer may require reasonable documentation that the leave meets the requirements of the ordinance. An employer may not require that the documentation explain the nature of the illness.
An Employer shall display a poster in a conspicuous and accessible location where any of their employees work, in English, Spanish, and any other primary languages of the employees at the particular workplace.
If an employee works remotely or does not have a regular workplace, an employer may provide the notice on an individual basis in the employee’s primary language in a physical or electronic format that is reasonably conspicuous and accessible. The Allegheny County Department of Administrative Services has prepared a notice for an employer’s use.
An employer can choose a reasonable system for providing notification of accrued paid sick leave available to an employee, such as with a pay stub or in an online system where an employee can access the information.
Employers shall retain for two years records documenting hours worked by employees and paid sick leave taken by employees.
The Allegheny County Department of Administrative Services (hereinafter Agency) has the authority to enforce the sick leave ordinance and guidelines. An employer who willfully violates this Ordinance shall be subject to a fine or penalty in an amount not to exceed $100 for each separate offense. No fines or penalties shall be levied by the Agency against any employer within one calendar year of the effective date of the Ordinance.
The Agency has additional information on its website, including the paid sick leave guidelines, paid sick leave notice and FAQs.
This law needs to be coordinated with other federal, state or local laws, specifically the City of Pittsburg’s Paid Sick Days Act, which is located in Allegheny County.
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