In January, we wrote about Allegheny County’s paid sick leave regulations that took effect in December 2021. Now, we write to tell you that the regulations have changed. The change will affect only one key industry – construction.
When the Allegheny County Board of Health drafted its paid sick leave regulations, it clearly modeled them after Pittsburgh City’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Except for the number of employees that trigger the sick leave requirement, Allegheny County’s draft regulations were nearly identical to the City’s. Ostensibly, the County drafted its regulations so similarly to the City’s to allow for ease of administration. With nearly identical ordinances, employers did not need to try to administer two materially different ordinances depending on whether their employees were working in the City or the County. But, when Allegheny County enacted the final version of its regulations, it had one significant difference compared to the City’s Act – the definition of “employee.”
The City’s definition of employee explicitly excludes any member of a construction union covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The County’s regulations left out that explicit exclusion.
Almost immediately, there was surprise and pushback in the construction industry in Allegheny County. On the heels of that pushback came rumors that the omission was an oversight, and that the County was going to amend its regulations to exclude construction unions, too. Those rumors proved to be true.
At its March meeting, the County’s Board of Health unanimously approved an amendment to the definition of “employee” within the paid sick regulations. The County’s paid sick leave now excludes any member of a construction labor union covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The amendment goes one step further and defines “construction labor union.” That is defined as “a labor union that represents, for purposes of collective bargaining, employees involved in the work of construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration, custom fabrication or repair work and who are enrolled or have graduated from a registered apprenticeship program.”
With this revision, unionized construction employers should review the language and scope of their paid sick leave policies. Such policies should be tailored to cover only non-unionized employees.