Additional Information on Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act

By: Lisa M. Schonbeck, Esq. 

On August 3, 2015, Pittsburgh City Council voted 7 to 1 in favor of the “Paid Sick Days Act,” legislation which will provide paid sick time to employees working in the City of Pittsburgh. We previously issued an alert regarding its passage. While the effective date has not yet been set, employers within the City of Pittsburgh should begin to become familiar with the Paid Sick Days Act’s provisions, which are outlined in further detail below.

The Paid Sick Days Act: The Specifics

The Paid Sick Days Act (the “Act”) applies to employers and employees within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh. The Act addresses four main areas: (1) accrual of paid sick leave; (2) use of paid sick leave; (3) retaliation; and (4) notice and recordkeeping.

Accrual of Sick Time

Accrual of sick time under the Act differs depending on the size of the employer.

• For employers with more than 15 employees, paid sick time is accrued at a rate of one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked in Pittsburgh, with an accrual limit of 40 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year.

• For employers with less than 15 employees, unpaid sick time is accrued at a rate of one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked in Pittsburgh, with an accrual limit of 24 hours, but only for the first year following the Act’s effective date. After this one-year period ends, these employees will accrue paid sick time at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked, with an accrual limit of 24 hours.

The accrual rates and limits are applicable to both full-time and part-time employees. Employers are free to maintain accrual rates and limits higher than those set by the Act. However, employers may not set accrual rates or limits lower than those described above.

Under the Act, accrued but unused sick time will carry over to the following calendar year, except where an employer’s policy makes available to employees the maximum amount of paid sick time required under the Act (i.e., 24 or 40 hours) up front at the beginning of each calendar year.

Use of Sick Time

The Act specifies the circumstances in which employees may use accrued sick time. For instance, an employee may use accrued sick time for his or her own:

• Mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;

• Need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or

• Need for preventive medical care.

With respect to notice of use, the Act requires that employees provide oral notice of their desire to use accrued sick time to their employer. The timing of notices will depend on whether an employee knows in advance of the need for leave.

Retaliation

• The Act prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against an employee because the employee has exercised rights protected under the Act. Protected rights can include the right to use sick time or the right to inform any person about an employer’s alleged violation of the Act.

• The Act also prohibits employers from maintaining a policy under which sick time taken under the Act is counted as an absence that may lead to or result in discipline, discharge, demotion or other adverse action. However, if the sick time is not taken in accordance with the Act’s notice procedures, it may be counted as such an absence.

Notice and Recordkeeping

• Employers are required to provide written notice to their employees regarding the Act, which includes their entitlement to sick time, the amount of sick time, the terms of its use, and the prohibition against retaliation. Specific information for employers regarding the notice requirement will be issued by the Controller’s Office prior to the Act’s effective date.

• The Act also requires that employers maintain records documenting the hours worked and the sick time taken by their employees for a period of two years.

Impact on Pittsburgh Employers

The Paid Sick Days Act will be effective on the 90th calendar day following the posting of regulations and notice information for employers. These regulations and notice information have not yet been posted by the Controller’s Office. Employers within the city that have previously not offered sick leave will be required to implement policies and procedures under which their employees are able to accrue and use paid sick time in accordance with the Act’s provisions. Employers that currently have policies in place regarding sick time will need to review and revise such policies in order to ensure compliance.

Leech Tishman is available to assist your organization with any questions regarding the Paid Sick Days Act, and can also provide guidance with respect to implementing and enforcing appropriate policies and procedures, and providing notice.

Lisa M. Schonbeck is a Partner in the Employment and Litigation Practice Group. She is based in the Pittsburgh office. Lisa can be reached at 412.261.1600 or lschonbeck@leechtishman.com.

Leech Tishman’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/leechtishman

Leech Tishman’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeechTishman

Leech Tishman’s Company Page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/leech-tishman

Leech Tishman is a firm dedicated to providing full-service commercial legal services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. We combine a deep understanding of our clients and their businesses with skilled legal counsel to find solutions. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Wilmington, DE. For more information call 412.261.1600 or visit us at www.leechtishman.com.