This post was written by Candace Chewning,  Mayor’s Office of Labor.


Since August 11, 2015, businesses in Philadelphia have been required to notify their employees that they are entitled to sick time, keep records of sick time for two years, and provide either paid or unpaid sick time for employees. 

At the time of its passing, the City’s sick leave law, entitled “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces  Act,” was the 17th municipal law in the country to mandate that most employers provide paid sick leave to employees, joining other cities and states who have paid sick leave laws.

The law states that both full-time and part-time employees can accrue one hour of paid or unpaid sick time for every 40 hours they work, including overtime hours. Employees with paid or unpaid sick leave time must be allowed to use at least 40 hours per year. 

Paid or unpaid sick leave

Employers with 10 or more employees are required to provide paid sick leave. In addition, all chain businesses with 15 or more locations worldwide are required to provide paid sick leave, regardless of how many employees may work in any one location. 

Employers with nine or less employees are required to provide unpaid sick leave. 

Using sick leave

Employees can use their sick leave time to care for themselves or certain family members by employee request. For example, simply stating, “I’m using eight hours of my sick time today,” is sufficient if your employer does not have a specific process outlined. 

Workers can use sick time when they or certain family members:

  1. Need diagnosis, care, or treatment of a health condition, including behavioral health.
  2. Need preventative care.
  3. Experience domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employers can ask for documentation when an employee misses more than two consecutive days of work. 

Employers are prohibited from placing conditions on the use of sick time such as requiring make up days or coverage. 

Using paid or unpaid sick leave time is a protected activity for covered employees. This means any adverse action that discourages employees from exercising their rights under this law is considered retaliation and is illegal. 

Health Department recommendations when sick

The Health Department says that the best way to keep from getting everyone in your workplace sick is to stay home.

  • If you are sick, stay home and try to stay away from other people. You should not go to work or school, attend social gatherings, or take public transportation. 
  • If you must go out in public while you are sick, be sure to cover your cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Before you’re sick, try to find out if your health care provider has a telehealth option. This is a good way to avoid crowded waiting rooms. If your provider doesn’t have telehealth, call ahead before going to see them.

Check out the City’s Health Department website for more information on health and health announcements. 

Sick leave updates in response to COVID-19

The City’s “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act,” otherwise known as the sick leave law, has been further defined so that covered workers can use their paid sick leave for COVID-19 related preventative care without fear of retaliation. During the COVID-19 risk, covered employees can use accrued paid sick time for the following:

  • Mandated business closures 
  • Caring for children during school or childcare closures 
  • Official quarantine and self quarantine
  • Illness and treatment of an illness for yourself or a family member

During the COVID-19 health risk, employees are not required to provide a note from a medical professional in order to use consecutive paid sick leave. 

The emergency regulations which provide further definition are posted on the City’s regulations website and are effective immediately.


Employers can request sick leave compliance assistance or ask questions, and employees can find out if they are covered or request training by contacting the Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance at 215-686-0802 or email paidsickleave@phila.gov.