Last week, legislation was introduced in Philadelphia City Council that could potentially impact business operations across Philadelphia. Councilmember Brooks’ “2021 Public Health Emergency Leave” would significantly expand required paid sick leave for individuals at companies with more than 50 employees. The legislation is modeled after an ordinance that was passed by Pittsburgh City Council in December, and the primary components of each bill are very similar. Employees qualify for this leave if they have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, they have to care for a family member who potentially was exposed to COVID-19, or their child’s school or daycare closed due to a public health emergency response. A previous version of paid sick leave legislation proposed in 2020 applied to companies with more than 500 employees.
In this proposed legislation, an employer must provide 80 hours of public health emergency leave for employees who work at least 40 hours a week. For employees who work less than 40 hours a week, an employer must provide leave equal to the amount of time the employee works during a two-week period. Unlike the Pittsburgh ordinance, employers in Philadelphia would be required to send notices to employees informing them of this new policy. As written, it would retroactively begin applying on January 1, 2021, and last through the end of Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency relating to the pandemic.
Twelve out of the 17 councilmembers co-sponsored this legislation and it is likely to move forward in some form. Amendments are usually made to bills during committee hearings, and this legislation has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.