Who: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania employers with 26 or more employees
When: Effective immediately
What: Effective December 15, 2021, private employers that are situated or doing business in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and have 26 or more employees must provide paid sick leave for covered employees. The Allegheny County City Council approved the ordinance known as the Paid Sick Leave law on September 14, 2021, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald signed it into law on September 15, 2021. The law does not apply to any municipality within Allegheny County that has already enacted its own paid sick leave law, as long as that law is at least as stringent as the new County ordinance.
When determining whether an employer is covered, the employer should count all employees. However, only employees who perform work within Allegheny County boundaries for at least 35 hours in a 12-month period are eligible to receive the sick leave benefit. Independent contractors and seasonal employees are not covered.
Employers must accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked within Allegheny County, beginning December 15, 2021, or the employee’s hire date if hired after December 15. Employees may start taking sick leave on the 90th calendar day after their hire date. The cap on annual accrual and usage is 40 hours.
Acceptable reasons for taking sick leave are:
- The employee’s (or employee’s family member’s) mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, including diagnosis, treatment, and preventive medical care;
- Closure of the employee’s place of business because of a public health emergency;
- The need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed because of a public health emergency; or
- The need to care for a family member when health authorities or a health care provider have determined the family member’s presence creates a risk to the community due to exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the family member has contracted the disease.
Family member includes any child (biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, child of domestic partner, legal ward, or child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis), sibling (biological, foster, or adopted), spouse or domestic partner, parent (biological, foster, adoptive, stepparent, or legal guardian of employee or employee’s spouse or domestic partner), grandparent (or spouse or domestic partner of grandparent), grandchild, and person the employer gave the employee permission to care for using sick time.
Employees must request to use sick time. If they know how much time they’ll need, they should inform the employer. When the need to take time is foreseeable, they should give the amount of notice the employer requires—which can be up to seven days. If the need is unforeseeable, the employee must give notice as soon as possible. If there is no advance notice policy, employees must request to use leave at least one hour before their shift starts.
An employer may either frontload all 40 hours at the beginning of the year and not carry over unused sick time or carry unused time over, up to a cap of 40 hours. Employers can choose whether or not to pay out unused sick time upon separation. If the employer rehires an employee within six months, the employer must reinstate unused sick leave for immediate use, unless that leave was paid out at separation.
Employers must give employees notice of their right to sick leave and post the employee notification poster by March 10, 2022. This requirement applies even in cases where the employer provides their own equivalent paid leave policy or a collective bargaining agreement exists.
An employer may request reasonable documentation of the need for leave if the employee takes three or more days, but may not require an explanation of the exact nature of the illness.
Paid sick time must be paid at an employee’s base rate of pay, and the employer must provide the same benefits while the employee takes sick leave.
Employers have to keep records of hours worked and sick leave taken for two years. They must also use a reasonable system to notify employees of their available paid sick time.
Employers may not retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights under the law, and the ordinance creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation for any adverse employment action taken within 90 days of an employee using leave. Employers cannot be fined for violations of the new law until December 15, 2022 (one year after its effective date of December 15, 2021).
- Provide the Alleghany County Paid Sick Leave Notice to employees and post it in the workplace by March 10, 2022.
- Review and update your paid sick leave or PTO policies.
- Train HR personnel, managers, and supervisors on the new law.
Alleghany County Paid Sick Leave Notice
Allegheny County Paid Sick Leave County Website
Guidelines for Administering the Allegheny County Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
Paid Sick Leave FAQs