PITTSBURGH EMPLOYERS – TIME TO CHECK YOUR COVID LEAVE POLICIES

July 28, 2021

As many of you return to work, you may be paying particular attention to news about COVID and the delta variant.  Seems Pittsburgh City Council is, too.  On July 27, City Council approved new temporary COVID paid sick leave.

Temporary paid sick leave for COVID applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by these temporary provisions.) Eligible employees must work in the City, normally work in the City but are working remotely due to COVID, or, work at least 51% of their time in the City if the employee works from multiple locations.

Covered employers that currently provide paid sick leave on an accrual basis (under Pittsburgh’s ordinance) must suspend accrual requirements and provide paid leave immediately if an eligible employee’s request for leave is COVID-related.  New employees are entitled to immediate use of the maximum amount of time if the employee’s request for paid sick time is for COVID-related reasons.  (Non-COVID-related paid sick leave requirements, including accrual and waiting periods, remain in effect.)

Employees who work 40 or more hours per week are entitled to at least 80 hours of paid COVID sick leave. Employees who work fewer than 40 hours in a week, are entitled to the greater of the amount of time they are scheduled to work or work on average in a 14-day period. (Exempt employees who don’t record hours are assumed to work 40 hours per week unless their normal workweek is less than 40 hours.)  All employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 90 days are eligible.  (Although this provision appears to contradict the immediate use by new employees provision, best practice may be to grant COVID paid sick leave to employees who qualify regardless of length of employment.)

COVID paid sick leave is in addition to any other sick leave provided by covered employers.  Employers aren’t permitted to change their policies to avoid being subject to COVID paid sick leave, and employers cannot require employees to use other available paid leave before granting COVID paid sick leave.

Eligible employees may take COVID paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework because the employee:

  1. Has been exposed to COVID or has symptoms of COVID;
  2. Must care for a family member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19;
  3. Must self-isolate due to COVID, must self-isolate due to symptoms of COVID, or must obtain diagnosis, care, or treatment for symptoms of COVID;
  4. Must care for a family member who must self-isolate due to COVID, must self-isolate due to symptoms of COVID, or must obtain diagnosis, care, or treatment for symptoms of COVID; or
  5. Must obtain a vaccine or vaccine booster for themselves or a family member.

The COVID situation is likely to change in the near future.  Please contact me if you have questions at jnovak@smgglaw.com or 412-281-5423.