Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Philadelphia Enacts Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
April 27, 2015
On May 13, 2015, workers in Philadelphia may begin to acquire paid sick leave hours under the “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces” Ordinance. Philadelphia becomes the 17th major city to pass a paid sick leave law.
Below are some FAQs that our clients have been asking:
How does the leave work?
Under this new law, for every 40 hours worked within the city of Philadelphia, employees are entitled to an hour of sick leave. You can only accumulate up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave in any year (unless the employer allows more). Unused paid sick leave carries over from year to year, though not past the maximum of 40 hours in a year. Employees must be employed for 90 days before being allowed to use sick leave..
Who is covered?
The law covers employees working at employers with 10 or more workers. To determine whether an employer falls under the paid sick leave part of the law, full time, part time and temp workers are all counted. Additionally, employees at chain establishments all are covered under the law, even if the chain establishments have less than 10 workers.
There are a few exemptions to this new law. Independent contractors, adjunct professors, interns, seasonal employees, employees hired for less than six months, pool employees, and state and federal employees do not receive this benefit. The law does not cover unionized employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, even if their coverage is less than that provided by the law. Employers with less than ten employees are only required to provide unpaid sick leave benefits.
What are the permitted uses for employee sick leave under the Law?
Employees must provide advance notice (written or oral) of foreseeable sick leave. The sick leave covers family illnesses, preventative care such as routine checkups and diagnosis, care and treatment of existing health conditions. Employees can also request sick leave due to issues from being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Employees only need to provide documentation of their sick leave after two consecutive days. For illnesses this notice can be a healthcare professional’s note. Victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse have several option to document their need for leave. They can provide a healthcare professional’s note, a statement from a victims services organization, a police report, or a court order. In neither instance does the employer have the right to details of the illness or the violence.
What protections do employee have under the law?
Employers must notify employees of their right to sick leave, the terms of it, the guarantee against retaliation and the right to file complaints regarding violations of the ordinance. The law requires either a notice of these rights or a poster prepared by the city. They must also maintain records related to hours worked and sick time taken and payments related to it. Employers who fail to do so, may be implied to have violated the law.
- If an employer withholds sick leave, an employee is entitled to the dollar amount of paid sick leave withheld.
- The law forbids any kind of discrimination or harassment against employees who take sick leave such as forbidding sick leave, firing, threatening firing, demotion, suspension, or any other retaliation for using sick leave.
- The law also forbids discrimination for filing complaints with the agency assigned to handle violations or cooperation with investigations and prosecutions or opposing a prohibited practice under the law. If an employee is fired or disciplined within 90 days of doing any of these things the employer is presumed to have retaliated under the law.
- An employee may file complaints with the agency about the alleged violation up to a year after the employee knew of the violation. 180 days after filing an agency complaint, the employee may file a civil action.
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