With the signature of Mayor Michael Nutter on February 12, 2015, Philadelphia became the 17th city in the United States to mandate paid sick leave for employees. The law goes into effect in 90 days (May 13, 2015) and applies to businesses with 10 or more employees. Covered employers will be required to give workers at least one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

The law defines an “employee” as one who works within the geographic boundaries of the City of Philadelphia for at least 40 hours each year. There are a number of exceptions to the definition including independent contractors, seasonal/temporary workers, interns, and workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

A few of the main provisions of the law are:

  • All covered employees must accrue one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked in Philadelphia. Employers can cap the amount of accrued sick time at 40 hours per calendar year;
  • Employees may begin to use accrued sick time on the 90th calendar day after beginning employment;
  • Sick time is to be carried over to the following calendar year unless the employer guarantees at least 40 hours of sick time at the beginning of each calendar year;
  • Employers who already have sick/vacation/PTO leave policies are not required to provide additional sick time under the Ordinance – as long as the employer meets the minimum requirements of the law;
  • “Sick time” can be used for the employee’s own medical issue, in order to care for a family member with a medical issue, or for absences due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • Employers must give written notice to employees who are entitled to sick time or post a sign in a place where all employee will be able to see it; and
  • The City or a harmed employee may bring a civil action in court against an employer for violation of the Ordinance (after exhausting administrative remedies).

While President Obama has called on Congress to pass federal paid sick-leave legislation, there is no indication that mandatory paid sick leave will become the law of the land any time soon.

If your company has operations in Philadelphia, you should consider reviewing your sick-leave policies in the next 90 days to ensure your policies comply with the new city ordinance.