On March 3, 2022, the Philadelphia City Council adopted one ordan amendment to the municipality’s law on public health it requires many employers in Philadelphia to give their employees paid leave for absence related to COVID-19. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the bill on March 9, 2022, and it went into effect immediately after the signing. The Executive Order stipulates that employees may use this new paid COVID-19 leave for their inability to work based on one or more of the following reasons:
- the employee’s presence at work or in the community will endanger the health of others due to the employee’s exposure to COVID-19, or because the employee exhibits symptoms, regardless of whether the employee has been diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19. 19;
- caring for a family member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or who is experiencing symptoms that could endanger the health of others, whether or not the family member has been diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19;
- to isolate oneself because the employee was diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19, because the employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19, or to seek medical attention if he experiences symptoms of a disease related to COVID-19;
- to take care of a family member who is self-isolating because the family member has been diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19 because the family member is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or to seek medical attention if he or she is experiencing symptoms of a disease related to COVID-19 ;
- to care for a child if their school has been closed or their childcare provider is unavailable due to precautions taken in response to COVID-19;
- to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster; or
- to recover from any side effect related to a COVID-19 vaccination.
The executive order applies to employers with 25 or more employees. These employers must allow their employees who work 40 hours or more per week to take 40 hours of paid COVID-19 leave. Eligible employees who work less than 40 hours in a week must have paid leave equal to the time they are otherwise scheduled to work, or actually work, on average for a period of seven days, whichever is greater. If an employee’s schedule varies from week to week, employers must determine how long the employee has worked on average over a seven-day period by calculating the average number of daily hours that the employee was scheduled for over the past 90 working days, incl. . hours during which the employee took leave of any kind, multiplied by seven. Employees must have paid their normal salary as well as their regular benefits.
Employees covered by the Executive Order must work for their employer in Philadelphia City after the effective date of the Executive Order must normally work for their employer in Philadelphia City, but currently remotely work from anywhere else as a result of COVID-19, or work for their employer from multiple locations or from mobile locations, provided 51 percent or more of the employee’s time is spent in the city of Philadelphia.
Paid COVID-19 leave in accordance with the Executive Order is in addition to other paid holiday, which is offered by an employer and cannot be reduced by the amount of the paid leave an employee has previously received. In addition, an employer may not force an employee to use other paid leave available to the employee until the employee is entitled to use paid COVID-19 leave (unless state or federal law requires otherwise). However, an employer is not obliged to change their existing policy or grant extra paid leave to employees if the employer’s existing policy provides 120 hours or more time off in 2022, regardless of whether such leave is specifically designated as sick leave, if e.g. leave can be used for the same purpose and under all the same conditions as COVID-19 leave.
To obtain leave, employees must notify their employer of their need for leave “as far as possible and as soon as possible”, but only when the need for leave is foreseeable. An employer is only permitted to request an employee to submit a self-certified declaration that leave was used in accordance with the purposes set forth in the Act.
Within 15 days after the date of entry into force of the Executive Order, employers must give the employees a notice of rights stating that (1) they are entitled to leave, the amount of leave and the conditions of its use guaranteed by law, and (2) retaliation. against employees requesting or using the leave is prohibited and each employee has the right to file a complaint or bring a civil action if leave, as required by law, is denied by the employer, or the employee is retaliated for requesting or take leave. This information must also be included in any employee manuals distributed to employees.
Employers must notify employees by either (1) providing each of their employees with a notice, or (2) displaying a poster in a conspicuous and accessible place in each company where such employees are employed. If an employee does not maintain a physical workplace, or if an employee works remotely or performs work through a web-based platform, the required notification must be sent by electronic communication or a conspicuous notice in the web-based platform. The City of Philadelphia released a Pandemic Paid Sick Leave Notice poster, which can be found here: Poster with notice of pandemic paid sick leave.
Leave under the Executive Order was immediately available to employees as soon as the Executive Order was signed into law without any qualifying or earning requirements and expires on 31 December 2023.