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City of Philadelphia Passes COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

The City of Philadelphia has recently passed legislation that continues the requirement for certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave for absences related to COVID-19. This paid sick leave must be provided outside of and prior to using the eligible employee’s existing accrued paid time off banks including for full time employees, part time employees, and union employees. Beginning on March 9, 2022, employers with 25 or more employees within the city’s limits must provide paid leave. This is the third amendment to Philadelphia’s Public Health Emergency Leave Law, and it is set to expire as of December 21, 2023.

Qualifying Reasons for Taking Leave

According to the law, paid leave is available to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 for one of the following reasons:

  • 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;
  • In order to care for a family member of the employee 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 having tested positive with COVID-19;
  • The employee has to self-isolate or care for oneself as result of exposure to, symptoms or diagnosis of COVID-19, including seeking or obtaining medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19;
  • An employee’s need to care for a family member as result of the family member’s exposure to, symptoms or diagnosis of COVID-19, including seeking or obtaining medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for the family member if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19;
  • An employee’s need to care for a child if the school or place of care is closed, or whose childcare provider is available, due to precautions taken in response to COVID-19;
  • An employee’s need to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster, or to recover from any side effect related to vaccination.

Amount of Paid Leave

The amount of paid sick leave available to employees is going to be dependent on the amount of hours that the employee typically works. Specifically, full-time employees (working at least a 40-hour workweek) are entitled to up to 40 hours of leave. However, covered employers whose existing leave policies provide 120 hours or 112.5 hours or more of paid sick leave that can be used for the same purposes under the same conditions of COVID-19 Leave, may not be required to provide additional paid sick leave. For employees working fewer than forty hours in a week, “COVID-19 leave shall be provided in an amount equal to the amount of time the employee is otherwise scheduled to work or actually works on average in a seven-day period, whichever is greater.” In the event of an employee having a varying work schedule, employers have been directed to calculate the amount of paid sick leave by taking an average of the daily hours worked in the previous 90-day period, including hours for which the employee took leave, and multiplying by seven.

Notice Requirements

According to the law, employees are required provide notice to their employer of the need for COVID-19 leave “as practicable and as soon as feasible, but only when the need for COVID-19 leave is foreseeable.” Additionally, employers are required to provide an updated notice to employees that informs them of their rights under the legislation. An updated notice from the City of Philadelphia can be found here.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers are encouraged to review their current COVID-19 sick leave policies to ensure continued compliance as a result of the newly passed amendment. Furthermore, employers will want to obtain the updated COVID-19 sick leave poster and immediately post it with the company’s other employment posters.

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