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Philadelphia’s Paid Sick Leave Law Is Less Than A Month Away From Going Into Effect!

Client Alert - April 14, 2015

By: Marc Furman and Mark Leavy

On February 12, 2015, Mayor Nutter signed a new “paid sick leave” law requiring most Philadelphia employers to provide a minimum level of paid sick leave to essentially all employees.  This law follows a pattern of other cities including, quite recently, New York City.  The law goes into effect on May 13, 2015 – now is the time to consider implementing new employment policies to comply with the law’s requirements.

The law generally applies to all Philadelphia employers with 10 or more employees.  However, an employer must take into account not just full-time employees but all employees – including all full-time, part-time and temporary employees on the payroll during a calendar year.  The law applies if an employer had 10 or more employees during 40 weeks of a calendar year.  It also applies to employees as long as the employee worked at least 40 hours during a given year – clearly, a very low threshold for eligibility.

The law does not, however, impose a very heavy obligation on most employers.  The paid sick leave law requires that covered employers give eligible employees one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours they work – which for most employers equates to approximately one full day of paid sick leave for every 2 months of full time employment.  The one aspect of the law that may be most difficult or disruptive for employers is that they must permit their employees to take sick time in as small an increment as the employer’s payroll system tracks time.  While employers may allow more paid sick leave, the law does not require employers to provide more than 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.  There are some eligibility exclusions for certain classes of employees.

While some employers may need to change their policies, many may find that their existing policies provide the same or greater paid time off benefits to their employees.  For example, employers that already offer up to 40 hours of paid leave per year will not have to offer additional leave time.  This could include vacation, short-term disability benefits, floating holidays, parental leave, personal days, or PTO that may be used as sick time.

BUT WAIT … there’s more.

As with many employment laws, Philadelphia employers need to comply with new notice, posting and recordkeeping requirements.  Likewise, the law has anti-retaliation and nondiscrimination provisions and the law imposes penalties for noncompliance.  An administrative agency of the City will be established to administer the law and respond to complaints.
The City will be actively looking for non-compliant businesses when the law takes effect mid-May 2015—you don’t want to be an example for others.  Every Philadelphia employer should review and update their sick leave policies to ensure compliance.

If you have any questions, please contact Marc Furman at mfurman@cohenseglias.com or 215.564.1700 or Mark Leavy at mleavy@cohenseglias.com or 215.564.1700.