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Legal Alert

Pittsburgh Expands COVID-19 Paid Sick Time As Pennsylvania Issues New Shut-Down Orders

12.14.20

Last week was another one of those whiplash weeks for Pennsylvania employers, especially those with operations in Pittsburgh. On December 9, Mayor Bill Peduto signed Pittsburgh’s Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, which immediately gave certain workers in the city up to an additional 80 hours of paid sick time. Then, on December 10, Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced new orders that, starting December 12, prohibit certain in-person operations and reduce capacity until January 4. So what do Pittsburgh employers – and all other businesses throughout Pennsylvania – need to know? Here are the key highlights to consider.

Pittsburgh’s Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

The Ordinance applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Employees are covered if they have been employed for the previous 90 days, and either:

Unless the employer designates a higher limit, the amount of “COVID-19 Sick Time” available under the Ordinance is: 

Covered employees can use COVID-19 Sick Time immediately, without a waiting period or accrual, if they are unable to work or telework for the following reasons:

  1. A public official, public health authority, health care provider, or an employer determines that the employee’s presence on the job or in the community would jeopardize the health of others because the employee has been exposed to COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms, regardless of whether the individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  2. To care for a family member who has been determined to be a risk for the same reasons set forth in category 1 above;
  3. The employee needs to (a) self-isolate because of a COVID-19 diagnosis; (b) self-isolate because they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or (c) seek or obtain medical diagnosis, care, or treatment if experiencing symptoms of an illness related to COVID-19; or
  4. To care for a family member with the same needs sets forth in category 3 above.

Notably, the sick leave is in addition to any other paid leave or sick time provided by employer policy, including time accrued under the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act. The Ordinance explicitly prohibits employers from changing their policies to avoid having to provide COVID-19 Sick Time. Employees can choose to use COVID-19 Sick Time before other types of leave, unless state or federal law requires otherwise. However, employers can substitute other paid leave or paid sick time for Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 Sick Time to the extent that:

Employers must provide COVID-19 Sick Time to the extent it exceeds the paid time allotment of those other laws or the employer’s COVID-19-specific paid sick time policy.

Pittsburgh’s Ordinance is likely designed to meet employees’ need for leave after the FFCRA expires on December 31. The Ordinance remains in effect until one week after the official termination of the public health emergency declared by either the Commonwealth or the City of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania recently extended its emergency proclamation through February 22, 2021).

Pennsylvania’s December 12 Shut-Down Orders

As for the Commonwealth more broadly, the following rules went into effect on 12:01 a.m. on December 12 and will be in place until 8:00 a.m. on January 4, 2021:

What Employers Should Do Now

Affected employers with workers in Pittsburgh should take the following steps to ensure compliance:

These ordinances and executive orders can be nuanced and change frequently. We will continue to monitor this rapidly developing situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ alert system to gather the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any member of our Pittsburgh office, and please visit our FP COVID-19 Resource Center for Employers.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of specific laws. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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