United States: Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Act Is Now On Course To Take Effect

Last Updated: July 23 2019
Article by Jennifer G. Betts

After a lengthy journey through the Pennsylvania legal system, the City of Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Act is now on course to go into effect. The Act was signed by the Pittsburgh mayor in 2015, but its implementation was delayed due to legal challenges. On July 17, 2019, after lower courts had previously found the law invalid, the highest court in Pennsylvania concluded that the City was within its authority in enacting the ordinance. As a result, absent other legal or legislative changes, the Paid Sick Days Act will soon go into effect for Pittsburgh employers.

The Paid Sick Days Act was originally intended to go into effect on January 11, 2016. Now that the legal challenges appear to be resolved, it is unclear what the Act's new effective date will be, although the mayor is expected to provide guidance on timing in the coming days.

Employers with employees working in Pittsburgh should consider reviewing and, if necessary, preparing revisions to their leave and paid time-off policies and procedures in light of the Act's requirements (described below) and be prepared to comply with the Act when it becomes effective.

Key Features of Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Act

Which Employers and Employees Are Covered?

Any employer that does business within the geographic boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh and employs one or more individuals in exchange for compensation is covered by the Act and required to provide paid sick time. In terms of employee coverage, the Act applies to all full- and part-time employees working within the geographic boundaries of the city. Seasonal employees (defined as those who are notified in writing upon hire that they will work no more than 16 weeks in a calendar year) and independent contractors are excluded from the Act's coverage.

How Do Employees Accrue Sick Time?

The Act provides that employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked in Pittsburgh. Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours in each workweek for sick-time accrual, unless their normal workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case sick time accrues based on the normal workweek.

If an employer has 15 or more employees: Employees are entitled to accrue up to 40 hours (e.g., 5 days) of paid sick time per calendar year.

If an employer has fewer than 15 employees: Employees are entitled to accrue up to 24 hours (e.g., 3 days) of unpaid sick time for the first calendar year after the Act's effective date. After this period, these employees are entitled to accrue up to 24 hours (e.g., three days) of paid sick time per calendar year.

The definition of a calendar year can be set by the employer, so long as it is a regular 12-month period and the period is communicated to employees. Employers can allow employees to accrue paid sick time at more generous rates than the established statutory minimums.

Rollover: Employees must be allowed to roll over accrued, unused sick time from year to year. As an alternative to rollover of accrued, but unused paid sick time, an employer may frontload the accrual amount to the beginning of the calendar year. In other words, an employer with more than 15 employees may grant employees the full 40 hours of paid sick time at the start of the calendar year rather than waiting for it to accrue. In either case (rollover or frontloading), an employer need not provide an employee with more than the statutorily required paid sick time (e.g., 40 or 24 hours) in a calendar year.

Notably, if an employer has a paid leave policy, such as a paid time-off policy, that is more generous than the Act's requirements, it need not offer additional paid time off if the paid time provided for in the employer's policy can be used for the same purposes and under the same circumstances as sick time provided for in the Act. Additionally, the Act provides that employers need not pay employees for accrued, unused sick time at the end of employment, a point employers may want to clarify in their policies.

What Are the Employer's Notification Requirements?

Employers must notify employees of the rights provided to them under the Act, including their right to sick time, the amount of sick time available to them, and the terms surrounding permissible sick-time use. Employees must also be notified of their right to be free from retaliation for requesting sick time, taking sick leave, or filing a complaint with the City. (It might make sense to review and revise handbook or policy antiretaliation provisions to include this prohibition.) Employers are also obliged to post notices provided by the City's controller relating to the Act, and are subject to fines for failing to post the notices. Two notices were issued by the controller in 2015 before the Act was originally slated to go into effect; it is unclear if these notices will be revised or if the same notices will have to be posted.

What Are the Employee's Notification Requirements?

Paid sick time must be provided upon an employee's oral request. When making a request, the employee must provide the anticipated duration of the absence, if possible. Employers may establish reasonable policies relating to the timing and circumstances of employees' requests for use of sick time. For example, employers can require, in the case of foreseeable paid sick time use (such as for a scheduled doctor's appointment), that employees provide "reasonable advance notice" of up to seven days. For unforeseeable sick-time use, an employer's policy can require an employee to make a "good faith effort" to provide notice as soon as possible. Employers may also ask employees to try to schedule their routine medical appointments to minimize interference with business operations.

An employer may only require an employee to submit documentation of the reason for using sick time if the employee uses three or more consecutive days of paid sick time. Even when requiring documentation is permissible, employers cannot require the documentation to identify the specific nature of the illness.

Employers may discipline employees who fail to follow an employer's notification requirements, but may not prevent employees from using accrued leave.

When and How Can an Employee Use the Sick Time?

Employees begin to accrue sick time as of the effective date of the Act; employees who are hired after the effective date begin to accrue sick time at the commencement of their employment. Employees may use accrued sick time after they have been employed for 90 days. Employees can use paid sick time for their own or family members' illnesses, injuries, or medical treatment, including preventive and mental health care. The Act broadly defines covered family members to include grandchildren, domestic partners, foster children, children of a domestic partner, and any individual for whom an employee has received oral permission from the employer to care for.

Employees can use paid sick time in one-hour increments or the smallest increment the employer uses for other absences. Sick-time pay is to be commensurate with the employee's rate of pay and with the same benefits, including health-care benefits, that the employee would have earned at the time of the use of paid sick time.

What Kinds of Recordkeeping Are Required?

For a period of at least two years, employers must retain records showing hours worked by employees and sick time taken by employees. These records are subject to review by the Pittsburgh's Office of the City Controller. Failure to maintain the records may result in fines as well as a rebuttable presumption that the Act was not followed.

What Are the Penalties for Noncompliance?

The Act makes it unlawful to, among other things:

  • require an employee, as a condition of taking sick time, to find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee is absent;
  • interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee's right to use accrued sick time;
  • discriminate or retaliate against an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick time; or
  • count any accrued and used sick time as an absence under any absence control policy that could lead to discipline or other adverse action unless the employee does not provide proper notice to use the sick time.

Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Act also creates a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation when an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of when the employee has exercised rights provided for in the Act by, for example, filing a complaint alleging a violation of the Act, opposing any policy or practice that is unlawful under the Act, informing "any person" about an employer's alleged violation of the Act, or informing any person of his or her rights under the Act.

The Act allows employees to file complaints with the Office of the City Controller or a court within six months of the date the employee knew or should have known of a potential violation. The City's controller may impose penalties and fines for violations of the Act, and provide all appropriate relief, including, but not limited to, lost wages and benefits and reinstatement.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to provide updates regarding Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Act as they become available.

Further information on state and local paid sick leave requirements is available in the firm's O-D Comply: State Leave Laws subscription materials, which are updated and provided to O-D Comply subscribers as the law changes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions