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David Laurent, co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment section, comments on the City of Pittsburgh's new paid sick leave ordinance and the challenges it posts to employers, especially among the COVID-19 pandemic. 

David Laurent, the co-chair of Pittsburgh-based Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC's labor group, said that employers have been struggling since the start of the outbreak to determine to what extent they'll be able to continue compensating workers who have been idled in recent weeks.

Sick leave, he said, could be an important part of that equation.

"What I know is that a lot of employers are trying to determine if there's a way to continue to pay people, and whether they do it through sick leave or just by the goodness of their hearts," he said. "There are so many questions that people have, but sick leave is a part of the response that you have to consider."

Unlike Pittsburgh, where few employees would have accrued significant time off because the ordinance took effect only recently, he said that Philadelphia could expect major growth in the number of workers filing complaints in the coming months for paid leave related to the virus.

"Now more so than ever, we have people experiencing situations that may call for paid sick leave, and given the dramatic ramp-up in payment obligations, it's probably not that far fetched to think there isn't going to be 100% compliance," Laurent said. "If there's going to be a high tide in people who are eligible to receive sick pay, you'd think there would be a corresponding increase in people claiming they didn't get what they were entitled to get."