This post was written by Candace Chewning, Director of Outreach and Communications, Philadelphia Department of Labor.
Certain Philadelphia workers have new protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. These employees include health care employees and people who work for employers with 500 employees or more.
Health care employee pandemic paid sick leave
On September 9, 2020, Philadephia’s sick leave law was amended so that certain health care employees are compensated in the event they contract a communicable disease during a pandemic or epidemic event, all under certain terms and conditions.
Health care employers are required to provide certain health care employees and pool employees with paid sick leave when they miss work and test positive for COVID-19. This includes hospitals, nursing homes, and home health providers.
Health care employees include service employees, health care professionals, per diem employees, and other full-time and part-time employees who work for health care employers.
In order to qualify for this additional COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave, the health care employee must have tested positive for COVID-19 and worked for the employer at least 40 hours in the three months prior to contracting COVID-19.
Public health emergency paid sick leave
Philadelphia’s sick leave law was amended so that employers with 500 or more employees are required to provide up to 112 hours of paid sick leave under certain circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic to Philadelphia employees who request it due to:
- Care for self or family member showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Care for self or family member advised to self quarantine by a health care provider.
- Care for self or family during local quarantine.
- Childcare closure.
Public health emergency paid sick leave (PHEL) is in effect September 17, 2020, through December 31, 2020. A note is not required in order to request public health emergency paid sick leave.
Employees who work for multiple employers have specific terms outlined in the regulations, including a specific start date.
Employees excluded under the FFCRA may be covered under the public health emergency paid sick leave amendment.
Separately, a Public Health Emergency Leave law started on March 29, 2021 and will be effective for the duration of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency by the Governor of Pennsylvania. This law requires employers with 50 or more employees provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to certain employees for specific COVID-19 reasons, including :
- Care for self or family member showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Care for self or family member exposed to COVID-19 in order to self isolate.
- Childcare or school closure.
- In order to receive a vaccine or recover from injury, disability or illness related to vaccination.
If you need to miss work for the reasons outlined above, you can request paid sick leave from your employer. This paid sick leave must be provided outside of and prior to using the eligible employee’s existing accrued paid time off for certain employees.
Covered employers whose existing leave policies provide 160 hours or more of paid time off in 2021 that is not specifically designated as sick leave but can be used for the same purposes under the same conditions as required by this law shall not be required to provide additional paid sick leave.
Eligible employees must be employed for 90 days or more in order to receive this paid sick leave for COVID-19 reasons listed above. This law includes full time employees, part time employees, and union employees. However, this law does not cover seasonal or temp employees, state or federal employees and independent contractors (1099 employees).
This March 29, 2021 Public Health Emergency leave expired on June 10, 2021. Eligible employees who are unable to work for covered reasons on the day of expiration may use any remaining Public Health Emergency Leave balance for one week following this expiration date.
*Employers may be eligible to receive a federal tax credit when they provide emergency paid sick leave.
How do I request paid sick leave?
If you are a health care employee or an employee who works for an employer with 500 or more employees, notify your employer immediately that you would like to be compensated for the reasons outlined above. You can do this by sending your supervisor an email or any other existing policy or practice you would normally use to request paid sick leave.
Employees do not need to provide a note from a doctor in order to use this benefit. However, an employer can request a self certified statement from the employee confirming the leave was taken for covered reasons.
What else do I need to know?
Retaliation by employers is illegal, including threats to immigration status.
COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave regulations are now posted to provide details on the recent amendments
The new COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave protections mean that many employers may fall under not only the City’s accrued paid sick leave requirements (for all employers with 10 or more Philadelphia employees), but also other paid sick leave requirements such as the PHEL paid sick leave or the FFCRA paid sick leave. Regulations for COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave have been posted to the Department of Records website.
Employers should look to the regulations to find guidance and clarification on pandemic paid sick leave requirements, including the following:
- When an accrued leave employee is also entitled to PHEL paid leave
- When an accrued leave employee is also entitled to Health Care Employee paid leave
- When a health care employee is entitled to PHEL and Health Care Employee paid leave
- Factoring the rate of pay for PHEL paid leave
- Factoring the rate of pay for PHEL paid leave for pool or per diem employees
- Factoring the rate of pay for tipped employees
- Factoring the amount of PHEL paid leave and accrued leave
- Examples of scenarios of providing paid leave
- Comparisons for frequent reasons for leave
- Employment separation and the right to use paid sick leave
- Other employer requirements, such as notifying each employee of their pandemic paid sick leave rights
Almost all Philadelphia workers are covered under the COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave requirements —even those paid in cash, including certain gig workers and domestic workers.
If you are not qualified for the City’s COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave requirements, you may be eligible for paid sick leave under the FFCRA. Review this COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave guide to see which paid sick leave you may be eligible to receive.
Contact us if you have been denied paid sick leave
Employees do not need to provide a note from a professional in order to use COVID-19 related paid sick leave under the City’s pandemic paid sick leave requirements. If you have requested paid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic and were denied, contact us for help.
Employees can file a complaint about violations of paid sick leave during the pandemic with the Philadelphia Department of Labor by completing the COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave complaint form and emailing it to COVID19WorkplaceProtections@phila.gov or calling (215) 686-0802.
Employers can contact the Office of Worker Protections in the Philadelphia Department of Labor for compliance assistance. For more information or to ask questions, email COVID19WorkplaceProtections@phila.gov or call (215) 686-0802. Language access is available.
More resources on paid sick leave
Additional information and resources related to COVID-19 pandemic paid sick leave is available for workers and employees.