On March 9, 2022, the Philadelphia City Mayor signed into law an ordinance amending the city’s existing public health emergency leave requiring covered employers to provide continuing paid COVID-19 leave through December 31, 2023. The law became effective on March 9 and is the third iteration of the COVID-19 paid leave mandate.
On September 17, 2020, Philadelphia passed the Public Health Emergency Leave Bill (the “COVID-19 Leave”), which provided paid “public health emergency leave” to individuals who work within the geographic boundaries of Philadelphia. The COVID-19 Leave expanded paid sick leave benefits to individuals who were not otherwise covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The COVID-19 Leave expired on December 31, 2020 and was expanded on March 29, 2021. On March 9, 2022, an ordinance was signed into law requiring covered employers to provide continuing leave through December 31, 2023 (the “2022 COVID-19 Leave”). While there are a few differences from the COVID-19 Leave, the most notable difference in this iteration is the amount of leave that must be provided by employers.
Under the 2022 COVID-19 Leave, eligible employees are entitled to paid “public health emergency leave.” Eligible employees may use this leave for situations when they are unable to work due to one or more of the following:
The 2022 COVID-19 Leave applies to employers with 25 or more employees (previously the leave only applied to employers with 50 or more employees). To be a covered employee, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for 90 or more days and:
Under the 2022 COVID-19 Leave, employers are required to provide less leave than before. Employers must provide the following amounts of paid leave:
Employers must provide paid leave at the covered employee’s regular rate of pay, with the same benefits (including health care benefits) as the employee normally receives from the employer.
Employers must provide employees with notice of the need for leave as practicable and as soon as feasible, but only when the need for the leave is foreseeable. Philadelphia’s Department of Labor published a model notice satisfying these requirements that can be found at https://www.phila.gov/media/20220315165758/2022-COVID-19-Pandemic-Paid-Sick-Leave-NOTICE-POSTER-ENG.pdf. The notice must be conspicuously displayed in the workplace or, if the employer does not have a physical workplace or an employee teleworks, the notice must be provided through electronic communication or a conspicuous posting in the web-based platform. The notice must also be included in any employee handbook.
Employees are entitled to job restoration to the same position held when the 2022 COVID Leave began. Employers can request an employee submit a self-certified statement stating that leave was taken for a covered reason under the 2022 COVID-19 Leave. Employers cannot require employees to find a replacement to cover their leave, nor can they retaliate against employees who use or request leave.
The 2022 COVID-19 Leave is in addition to all other paid leave an employer provides and cannot be reduced by the amount of any paid leave an employee has previously received. Employees may not be required to use other paid leave available before using the 2022 COVID-19 Leave unless state or federal law requires otherwise. In certain situations, as set forth below, employers can use pre-existing benefits to satisfy COVID-19 leave requirements:
Employers with employees performing service in Philadelphia should work with labor and employment counsel to review their leave policies and procedures to ensure that they are compliant with the 2022 COVID-19 Leave.
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