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The City of Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act became effective in March 2020. The City has recently announced that it will begin targeted enforcement efforts to ensure Pittsburgh’s employers are providing employees with paid sick days as mandated.

The City of Pittsburgh Office of Equal Protection will conduct compliance investigations, starting with restaurants in the Lawrenceville and South Side neighborhoods, to confirm that employers have posted the proper notices required by the Act. Employers must post the notice in the primary language spoken by any covered employee—even if an official translation is not provided by the City. Although employers are not required to include an employee’s accrued paid sick time on each paystub, employers are required to keep accurate records and provide employees with easy access to their accrued paid sick time. A failure to keep records will result in a presumed violation of the Act.

Although the Office of Equal Protection will focus its compliance checks within the food services industry, other Pittsburgh businesses will likely be targeted next. The City launched a Paid Sick Days Website with an easily accessible web-based complaint form that allows employees to submit anonymous complaints to initiate investigations. The Office of Equal Protection plans to publish results of its compliance investigations on the website, deeming a business a “Safe Workplace” if it meets the minimum requirements of the Act, a “Thriving Workplace” if it exceeds the minimum requirements, or a “Non-Compliant Workplace” if a business fails to meet the minimum requirements.

Key Provisions

The key provisions of the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act are as follow:

  • All employees who work 35 or more hours a year within the City must accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked.
  • All employees must be allowed to accrue up to 24 hours of paid sick time, and employees in workplaces with 15 or more employees must be allowed to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time.
  • Unless an employer implements a policy that “front loads” the maximum accrual required by the Act, employees must be allowed to “carry over” any accrued, unused paid sick time from the prior year.
  • Employees may begin to use paid sick time after 90 days of employment, but separated employees re-hired within 6 months are entitled to reinstatement of their previously accrued paid sick time and may use it immediately.
  • Employees must be allowed to use paid sick time for their own illness, injury, or to seek preventive medical care or to care for a family member with an illness, injury, or who needs preventive medical care.
  • Employers may require employees to provide reasonable notice of paid sick time use, especially for foreseeable absences to attend health care appointments, but if an employer has not implemented its own notification policy employees may provide notice at least one hour prior to the start of a scheduled shift or as soon as possible if the need for sick time is emergent or unforeseeable.
  • Employees must not face retaliation for requesting or using paid sick time.

This Act only applies to workers within the City limits. However, employers with 26 or more employees must also be aware of Allegheny County’s Paid Sick Leave ordinance that provides covered employees with similar rights and benefits.

In order to avoid a contact with a compliance investigator, businesses within the City of Pittsburgh may submit a copy of their paid sick time policy and a photo of the posted notice to “fast track” a compliance finding by the Office of Equal Protection.

If you have any questions about compliance with the Act, the notice, and/or the Office of Equal Protection has contacted you, Buchanan’s experienced team of labor and employment attorneys are available to quickly determine whether your policy and practices are compliant and can assist your business to quickly remedy any compliance issues and respond to the investigation.