In June, 2021, Philadelphia’s previous public health emergency leave mandate expired. However, on March 9, 2022, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed a new bill extending COVID-19 paid sick leave to certain eligible employees. That bill became effective immediately upon signature. These requirements will sunset on December 23, 2023.
Under this new ordinance, employers with more than 25 employees must provide up to 40 hours of additional paid sick leave to eligible employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, including:
- A determination by a public official or public health authority having jurisdiction, a health care provider, or an employer that the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 or because the employee is exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the employee has been diagnosed with or has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Caring for a family member due to a determination by a public official or health authority having jurisdiction, a health care provider, or the family member’s employer that the presence of the family member on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the family member’s exposure to COVID-19 or a determination by the employer that the employee is a danger to the health of others because they are exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the family member has been diagnosed or has tested positive with COVID-19.
- Caring for oneself or a family member self-isolating due to having tested positive or diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Caring for oneself or a family member self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Seeking a medical diagnosis, care, or treatment due to experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19.
- Caring for a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment due to experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19.
- Caring for a child, whose school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider of such child is unavailable, due to precautions taken in response to COVID-19.
- Receiving a COVID-19 test or vaccine (including a booster), or recovering from injury, disability or illness related to vaccination.
Eligible employees are those who either work in the City of Philadelphia, normally work in the City of Philadelphia but are currently teleworking due to COVID-19, or work from various locations, so long as 51% of the employee’s time is spent in the City of Philadelphia. Eligible employees who work 40 or more hours a week are eligible for a full 40 hours of COVID-19 leave, whereas eligible employees who work less than 40 hours a week receive an amount based on average hours worked or scheduled, whichever is greater. Note that there is no waiting period and no length of service requirement before use of this leave. The leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Employees are required to provide notice of their need for leave as soon as practicable, but the ordinance offers no guidance on employee notice obligations when the need for leave is unforeseeable. In connection with this leave, employers should only request self-certified statements from the employee that the leave was taken for a covered reason. Employers must also post a notice of employee rights.
Employers may use existing paid leave policies to comply, but only to the extent the policy is equally generous and meets all the requirements of the mandate. Further, the ordinance includes an exemption for any employer policy which provides (a) at least 120 hours of paid time off in 2022 (for 40-hour/week employees), and (b) that time can be used for the same reasons and under the same conditions set out in the ordinance.
Given the complexity of this ordinance, and the significant publicity it has received, we recommend that employers consult with counsel to ensure that they are in compliance with accurate policies and training to follow those policies. We also recommend that employers monitor the City’s webpage for updated guidance. Ballard Spahr regularly works with its employer clients to assist them with leave laws and other aspects of labor and employment laws at the federal, state and local government levels.