This post was written by Candace Chewning, Office of Worker Protections.
Learn about the City’s paid sick leave law and pass the information along to your family, friends, and employees or coworkers. The Philadelphia Department of Labor has additional information and resources on this and other worker protection laws.
The City’s paid sick leave law, “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces,” has been in effect since August 1, 2015. This law requires employers to provide covered employees who work in Philadelphia with sick leave, provide employees notice of their rights under the law, and track sick leave use and accrual for two years.
Philadelphia’s sick leave law:
- Protects public health by allowing employees to stay home when they are sick or to care for a sick family member to prevent further spread of disease.
- Improves health outcomes by allowing employees to use sick leave for preventative care for themselves or a family member.
- Builds economic security by allowing employees to care for themself or a family member without sacrificing their wages.
- Creates more productive and healthy workplaces.
Covered employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked and can use up to 40 hours of sick leave a year when they or certain family members:
- Need diagnosis, care, or treatment of a health condition—including behavioral health.
- Need preventative care.
- Experience domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
Employers with 10 or more employees must provide paid sick leave. Employers with nine or fewer employees must provide unpaid sick leave. Employers may choose to either use an accrual or front load system for sick leave hours.
COVID-19 emergency regulations
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City issued emergency regulations on March 16, 2020 that addressed how employers must apply the sick leave law during the pandemic. These regulations are still in effect.
Covered employees can use their paid sick leave for COVID-19 related issues and preventative care without fear of retaliation, regardless of perceived immigration status. This includes:
- Mandated business closures
- Caring for children during school or childcare closures
- Official quarantine and self-quarantine (including self-quarantine for workers who are immunocompromised)
- Receive a COVID-19 vaccine or recover from a COVID-19 vaccine
- Receive a COVID-19 test
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.
Healthcare Epidemic Leave for Healthcare Employees
On-site healthcare employees have specific additional protections during the pandemic when they test positive for COVID-19 and work 40 hours within the three months prior to the positive test. Contact the Office of Worker Protections for more information by email PaidSickLeave@phila.gov or call 215-686-0802.
Frequently asked questions about paid sick leave requirements during COVID-19
The information below is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the law and regulations. The following information provides clarity on Supplemental Emergency Regulations Regarding COVID-19 and Chapter 9-4100 Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces and its regulations. This information is not intended to convey advice on compliance with any other applicable federal, state or local law.
Employees are encouraged to refer to other federal, state, and local agencies for details on other benefits and how they are administered. For example: Pennsylvania state unemployment benefits and the U.S. Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which may provide additional paid sick leave and other protections.
Can I use my paid sick leave during a business closure when I am not on the schedule?
Yes. The COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave regulations require employers to allow all covered employees to use their accrued paid sick leave if the employee must remain home as a result of a requirement by the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner that a business or a type of business close.
Can I use my paid sick leave if I have been laid off or furloughed?
Yes, if you would have been eligible to use your sick leave had you not been laid off or furloughed. The COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave regulations require employers to allow all covered employees to use their accrued paid sick leave for certain COVID-19 reasons.
Employers are prohibited from interfering with or placing conditions on the use of paid sick leave. Employers are required to provide employees who were eligible to use paid leave (or would have been eligible to use paid leave had such employees not been laid off) the opportunity to use their paid sick leave before laying off, furloughing, terminating, or causing a separation from work.
May I be required to use my accrued paid sick leave for any reason?
No. The paid sick leave law requires employers provide sick leave for reasons outlined by the law and its regulations, but prohibits employers from interfering with or placing conditions on how sick leave is used.
What if an employee has used all their accrued paid sick time or is a new employee within the 90 day time frame?
Under the City’s paid sick leave law, an employer is only required to allow an employee to use accrued hours of sick leave under the conditions outlined above. It is the discretion of the employer if they want to provide more paid leave, provide an advance or paid leave, or allow the use of vacation or other accrued leave.
Other laws may require an employer to provide employees with leave, including: the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and federal, state, or local disability laws.
What if an employee has vacation or PTO time that meets the requirements of the City’s sick leave law?
An employer with a paid leave policy which meets or exceeds the accrual requirements of the sick leave law, and that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions, is not required to provide additional sick time.
This is including, but not limited to: vacation days, sick days, short-term disability benefits, floating holidays, parental leave, personal days, or PTO.
Other federal, state, or local laws may have specific requirements regarding providing additional paid sick leave. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s paid sick leave requirements.
May an employee use more sick leave other than what is protected by the law?
Yes. An employer may provide, and an employee may use, additional sick leave not covered by the law.
May an employer require an employee to go home when sick?
Yes. This law does not prohibit an employer from sending an employee home because of illness.
Other state and local laws may determine whether it is lawful or outline specific requirements for sending someone home.
Filing a complaint
If you believe you have experienced retaliation or a violation of this law, file a complaint with the Office of Worker Protections by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have additional questions about the City’s paid sick leave law, or want to request compliance support, please contact the Philadelphia Department of Labor by emailing email@example.com.