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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Pittsburgh, PA Paid Sick Time

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1) What does the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Time law do?

It gives workers sick time that can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; when the worker’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; or to care for a family member when a public health authority or health care provider determines that the family member’s presence in the community presents a public health risk because of exposure to a communicable disease (regardless of whether the individual has contracted the disease).

And pursuant to the emergency COVID-19 ordinance explained below, workers who need to use their sick time under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law for reasons arising directly from COVID-19 are immediately able to use the maximum sick time they’d be able to earn in a year, regardless of whether they’ve accrued that time.

On July 27, 2021, the Philadelphia Temporary COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave law became effective. The law provides covered workers with COVID-19 paid sick leave, which can be used when workers are unable to work or telework because:

  • Of a determination by a public official or public health authority having jurisdiction, a health care provider, or the worker’s employer that the worker’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the worker’s exposure to COVID-19 or because the worker is exhibiting symptoms that might jeopardize the health of others, regardless of whether the worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants;
  • The worker is 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 family member 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 with COVID-19 or any of its variants;
  • Of a worker’s need to: (i) self-isolate and care for oneself because the worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants; (ii) self-isolate and care for oneself under the guidelines promulgated by the Allegheny County Health Department because the worker is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any of its variants; (iii) seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19 or any of its variants;
  • The worker is caring for a family member who: (i) is self-isolating due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 or any of its variants; (ii) is self-isolating under the guidelines promulgated by the Allegheny County Health Department due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any of its variants; (iii) needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19 or any of its variants; or
  • Of a worker’s need to obtain a vaccine or vaccine booster for themselves or a family member.

The law is effective from July 27, 2021 until July 27, 2022. From December 9, 2020 to June 10, 2021, certain workers may have had additional sick time rights in relation to COVID-19 pursuant to an emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinance. For more information, see the expired law here.

2) Am I covered?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: If you work as an employee in Pittsburgh, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time or part-time worker. However, the law does not cover federal and state employees, independent contractors, construction union members covered by a collective bargaining unit, and certain seasonal workers hired for a seasonal period of no more than 16 weeks in a calendar year—and notified of such in writing at the time of hire.

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: If you work as an employee in Pittsburgh for at least 51% of the time (or normally work in Pittsburgh but are currently teleworking) for an employer with 50 or more employees, you are probably covered whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker. However, the law does not cover federal employees.

3) How much sick time can I earn under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law and receive under the COVID-19 paid sick leave law?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: You earn 1 hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked. If your workplace has 15 or more workers, you can earn up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per year. If your workplace has fewer than 15 workers, you can earn up to 24 hours of per year and until March 15, 2021, this time will be unpaid; beginning March 15, 2021, this time will be paid. However, as explained in Question #1 about the emergency sick leave law, workers who need to use their sick time for reasons arising directly from COVID-19 are immediately able to use the maximum amount sick time they’d be able to earn in a year, regardless of whether they’ve accrued that time.

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: If you are a covered worker who works 40 hours or more per week, you can take up to 80 hours of COVID-19 paid sick leave; and if you work fewer than 40 hours per week, you can take up to the average number of hours you work or are scheduled to work in a 14-day period, whichever is greater. If your schedule varies from week to week, you can take up to the average number of hours that you were scheduled to work over the past 90 days of work, including hours for which you took any type of leave. Unlike paid sick time under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law, you do not have to earn or accrue—based on hours worked—this COVID-19 paid sick leave.

Under both the permanent paid sick time law and the COVID-19 paid sick leave law, all covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).

4) What if my work or my child’s school or daycare is closed for a health emergency?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: You can also use your sick time if your place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: You cannot use your COVID-19 paid sick leave because your work or your child’s school or day care is closed unless you would otherwise be able to use your COVID-19 paid sick leave (for example, if your doctor advises you to stay home because of COVID-19 concerns).

5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: You can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent of a spouse or domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, grandparent’s spouse or domestic partner, or for any individual for whom you’ve received oral permission from your employer to care for at the time of your sick time request. 

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: Although it is not explicit in the law, the same family member definition listed for the permanent paid sick time law above likely applies under the COVID-19 paid sick leave law.

6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: If you already get any paid leave (vacation, paid time off, etc.) that you can use as sick time for the same purposes and under the same conditions of this law and it’s at least the same amount you would earn under this law, the law does not give you any additional paid time off.

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: COVID-19 paid sick leave is in addition to paid sick time under Pittsburgh’s paid sick time law, and you cannot be required to use any other paid leave provided by your employer before using COVID-19 paid sick leave. However, if during the COVID-19 pandemic, your employer adopted a policy that provided additional paid sick time specifically for COVID-19-related use, leave under that policy can be substituted for COVID-19 paid sick leave under the Pittsburgh COVID-19 leave law (therefore reducing the time available to you under the Pittsburgh COVID-19 leave law), to the extent that the leave under the employer policy and Pittsburgh law coincide. The COVID-19 paid sick leave law also prohibits employers from changing any paid leave policies on or after July 29, 2021 to avoid being subject to the COVID-19 paid sick leave law.

7) When can I begin using my sick time?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: You start earning sick time immediately but cannot use it until 90 days after the start of your employment.

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: You may take leave once you have worked for your employer for 90 days. However, COVID-19 paid sick leave is not earned or accrued on an hourly basis and can be taken immediately after this 90-day period.

8) Do I need a doctor’s note?

Under Pittsburgh’s permanent paid sick time law: Only after 3 or more full consecutive days of absence (and the note does not have to specify your illness).

Under Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law: It is unclear if your employer may request documentation regarding COVID-19 paid sick leave.

All covered workers are protected against being fired or punished for using sick time or COVID-19 paid sick leave. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal clinic at 1-833-NEED-ABB.

 

The Mayor’s Office of Equity is in charge of enforcing these laws.

Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time laws described, and it does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that additional provisions not described in this fact sheet may apply to a worker’s specific circumstances or category of employment.

 

Download printable resource below:

Pittsburgh, PA SickTimeFact Sheet FINAL 4

 

 

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