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Workers Within City of Philadelphia Limits Now Entitled to Paid Sick Time

9/15/2015 | Construction Blog

Philadelphia has put a new city ordinance in place that implements its policy of ensuring that all employees – whether working for a public or private entity – within the city limits, get paid sick time. Bill number 141026 became effective in May. With one notable exception for people working under a collective bargaining agreement, it applies to all construction and development companies.

sick-workerUnder the new law, employees who work within the Philadelphia city limits are entitled to 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. All employers are required to provide sick leave; however, employers with 10 or more employees must make that sick leave a paid absence. Employers with 9 or fewer employees may, but are not required, to make the sick leave paid. A maximum of 40 sick hours may be earned in a year and the sick time can be used after the employee has worked a minimum of 90 days. Sick time can be used for health needs or for leave to address domestic or sexual abuse within an employees’ family.

Some questions remain on the application of this new law. First, it’s unclear how employers who have mobile employees moving into and out of the city on multiple occasions during the day or week should be treated. Some portions of the law suggest that if an employee works in the city for any amount of time, the policy applies. While it seems safe to assume that the city will take this position, the rule remains vague.

Second, there seems to be no indication as to how the City will treat situations of abuse. The sick time rule is designed to allow employees to deal with health related issues. There is a new City agency being set up to handle abuses of the new law by the employer, but there is no guidance on what an employer can do if the employee is using sick time as a way to garner additional “vacation” time. This should be clarified.

Finally, independent contractors are excluded from coverage under the law. This will only serve to incentivize companies to try to take workers off their payroll or classify them as independent contractors. Since there are so many tests available to define who is an independent contractor and who is not, some additional information on how this will be determined would be helpful.

Regardless of some of the confusing elements of the new law, it is a rule that companies employing people who work within the Philadelphia city limits will have to follow. Be aware and make sure you are following the rule since the mandatory compliance as started.