Yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed mandatory paid sick leave into law, a law that is expected to benefit up to 200,000 Philadelphians.
Taking effect in just 90 days – or no later than May 13, 2015 – the Promoting Healthy Family in the Workplace Law will require businesses within the City of Philadelphia with 10 or more employees to provide workers with at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked – approximately five days per year. Sick time may be used for an employee’s health care, the care of a family member, and time needed to seek support in dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault.
The new law also creates exceptions for independent contractors, seasonal workers or those hired for fewer than six months, adjunct professors, interns and government employees. The law also specifically exempts unionized workers working under collective-bargaining agreements, due to the powerful building trades unions in the city opposed having unions included. Failure to comply can result in fines, penalties, and restitution.
The law intended to be the minimum requirement, allowing businesses to implement more generous benefits for their employees. Businesses that already provide sick pay meeting or exceeding the law’s requirements need not change their policies. Employers that violate the ordinance will be subject to fines, penalties, and restitution. An employer who wilfully violates the notice and positing requirements of the new law are also subject to a civil fine in an amount not to exceed $100 for each separate offense.
Seven years after the initial push by Councilman William K. Greenlee, Philadelphia finally joined the coalition of 16 cities and three states which have similar laws in its books. Mayor Nutter previously vetoed similar bills in 2011 and 2013, citing concerns about the economic recession. Passage of the law makes Philadelphia the 17th city in the US to mandate paid sick leave, and it is the second largest city in the country after New York City to do so. During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to pass federal-sick leave legislation.
In New Jersey, a number of Municipalities have enacted similar laws, and a bill is currently pending in the state Assembly that would expand the initiative state wide. In its current form, the N.J. bill would require employers with fewer than 10 employees to offer at least 40 hours of sick time per year, while businesses with more than 10 employees would have to offer at least 72 hours of paid sick time per year.
For questions related to Philadelphia’s paid sick time ordinance, or compliance with your local paid sick leave laws, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at email@example.com.